BANGOR, Maine — The Cross Insurance Center has been like a home away from home for the Houlton High School girls basketball team.
On Tuesday night, the top-seeded Shiretowners improved to 10-0 in regional play at the facility with a resounding 65-26 Class C quarterfinal victory over No. 8 Piscataquis Community of Guilford.
Coach Shawn Graham’s ballclub (19-0) played with swagger while pulling away from a testy Pirates squad the finished the season at 11-9.
Houlton advances to play No. 5 Central (18-2) in Friday’s 3:35 p.m. semifinal. The Shires handed the Red Devils their only losses.
Senior standout Kolleen Bouchard poured in a game-high 25 points and pulled down 11 rebounds to spark the Shiretowners. Aspen Flewelling (nine rebounds) and Teagan Ewings tossed in 12 points each for Houlton, which received 13 rebounds from Kristen Graham.
Erin Speed led the Pirates with 14 points and seven rebounds and Bailey Lemieux netted seven points.
Houlton led 30-15 at halftime, then blitzed PCHS for 25 unanswered points in the third quarter ot put the game out of reach.
Bouchard set the tone right out of the gate, slicing through the PCHS defense to score Houlton’s first 12 points of the game in a span of less than five minutes to put the Shires on top.
Bouchard drove to the basket for four layups, including two left-handed shots, and added four free throws as Houlton built an 18-11 lead after one quarter.
The Shires extended the lead in the second quarter, outscoring the Pirates 12-4. PCHS was hampered by the loss at the 6:39 mark of junior forward Alivia Hunt, who appeared to suffer an injury to her right knee on which she was wearing a neoprene sleeve.
Another starter, Lexi Rowell, picked up her third foul two minutes into the period.
Houlton scored the last nine points of the half on Abbie Worthley’s 3-pointer, a fast-break layup by Teagan Ewings off a pass from Bouchard, and two foul shots each by Aspen Flewelling and Bouchard that gave the Shires a 30-15 edge at the break.