AUGUSTA, Maine — The Washburn High School girls basketball team raced out to a 22-9 lead over Forest Hills of Jackman, and it appeared as though the Beavers were going to make short work of the Tigers.
But eight straight Forest Hills points to open the second period supplied the Beavers with a wake-up call.
Fueled by their relentless full-court trapping defense, the Beavers rattled off a 22-2 run and went on to annex their fourth straight state championship, 78-40, at the Augusta Civic Center on Saturday afternoon.
The 78 points set a state girls Class D record.
Washburn completed a 21-2 season while Forest Hills wound up 21-1.
“They decided to take the game over [after our run], and they did just that,” said Forest Hills coach Mike LeBlanc. “We lost to a better team. Hats off to them.”
“We got a little comfortable with the big lead. Once they made that run, it made us mad,” said Washburn junior guard Mackenzie Worcester. “We knew we could play better. It motivated us to play our game.
“I don’t know if they’ve ever seen trapping like that. Our goal was to trap, trap, trap and it seemed to work. We transitioned well to offense off of it,” added Worcester.
The trap forced a ton of turnovers.
The Beavers scored 17 of their 24 second-quarter points over the final 3:29 of the quarter.
Worcester was the catalyst during the decisive run as she scored 10 points and had three assists. Senior guard Carmen Bragg had six points and two assists and senior forward Nicole Olson nailed a pair of three-pointers after missing her first three.
A Bragg steal and pass to Worcester triggered the 22-2 run before Worcester fed Bragg in the lane for a driving six-footer. Worcester then hit three free throws, two courtesy of a LeBlanc technical foul.
“We lost momentum when I got my technical,” said LeBlanc.
Worcester fed Olson on the right side of the key for 3-pointers that sandwiched Anna Carrier’s layup for Forest Hills.
Bragg banked in a runner and converted a Joan Overman steal and pass before Worcester sank a free throw and hit a 10-footer off a Bragg steal and pass.
Worcester sank a pair of free throws to cap the run.
“We didn’t expect them to come back and we got lazy on defense and that’s one thing you can’t do in a championship game,” said Olson, who added that once she hit her first 3-pointer, “I knew I had to keep shooting.”
Bragg said “After they made their run, we figured it was our turn. We picked up the intensity.”
Washburn led 46-20 at the half and was never seriously threatened in the second half.
“All of them have a lot of energy, and their press is really hard,” said Forest Hills senior forward Carrier.
The Beavers also did an impressive job extending their 1-3-1 zone to cover Forest Hills’ 3-point shooters. They limited Forest Hills to 3-for-14 shooting from beyond the 3-point arc. Forest Hills set a Western Maine Class D record with 22 3-pointers.
Worcester finished with a game-high 28 points and she also dished out six assists.
Bragg wound up with 24 points, six steals, four rebounds and three assists.
“This is a great way to finish my career,” grinned Bragg.
Olson had 11 points, four rebounds, two steals and two assists, and Overman contributed five points, seven steals and two assists.
Carsyn Koch got in foul trouble early but still managed to grab eight rebounds and make three steals. She also had three assists.
“I knew the other girls would pick it up. They buckled down on defense and were patient on offense,” said Koch. “We underestimated their size. They rebounded well and boxed out but we made sure we got in there on the boards in the second, third and fourth quarters. And we transitioned to offense.”
The Tigers were led by senior guard Kori Coro, who had 11 points, two steals and two assists, and Carrier, who notched 10 points, a game-high 10 rebounds and five steals.
Linda Riley added seven points and five rebounds.
“It wasn’t an easy win. We had to work hard for it,” said Washburn coach Diana Trams. “The score wasn’t indicative of how well Forest Hills played.”