BANGOR, Maine —Central of Corinth’s debut at this year’s Eastern Maine Class C girls basketball tournament was easy at first — almost too easy.
The No. 2 Red Devils cruised to a 14-point halftime lead against No. 7 Orono on Tuesday afternoon, then had to overcome foul trouble and 18 second-half turnovers to hold off the Red Riots 54-44 in a quarterfinal at the Bangor Auditorium.
“In the first half we came out tough,” said Central junior guard Hannah Pray. “In the second half we got a little sloppy, but we were able to pull it back together enough. We tend to do that.”
The win sends the Red Devils to a 7:05 p.m. semifinal Friday against No. 6 Calais, which upset No. 3 Woodland 58-56 in overtime earlier in the day.
Central (17-2) showed off its balance in the first half of its game, with 6-4 Bekah Campbell and 6-0 Jocelyn Portman controlling the inside and Pray sparking the Red Devils’ perimeter effort.
Pray scored 14 points on 7 of 12 shooting as the Red Devils moved out to a 31-17 halftime lead against an Orono team struggling to get easy shots.
That changed after the break.
Campbell and Portman both were sidelined with foul trouble, and Orono’s fullcourt defensive pressure began to produce transition offense.
After Central stretched its lead to 37-17 with the first six points of the second half, Orono battled back.
First there was a 7-0 run featuring a 3-pointer by Elizabeth Fox, and later six more unanswered points — two jumpers by Ally Sherman and a follow-up basket by freshman Jillian Woodward — to draw Orono within 41-34 with 5:17 left in the fourth quarter.
That’s as close as the Red Riots got, as Central limited Orono to two field goals the rest of the way while countering with 10 late free throws.
“I think we turned it over because we used so much energy in the first half,” said Central coach Diane Rollins. “It wasn’t that we meant to turn the ball over, it was just tired kids.
“But I think they did a good job to hold off Orono’s run.”
Campbell added nine points and six rebounds for Central, while reserve Roberta Trafton added seven more boards.
Woodward led 16-4 Orono with 12 points and 11 rebounds, while Sherman had 11 points and 10 boards.
In the first game, senior center Nicole Osborne sank a pair of free throws with 0.3 seconds left in overtime to give the Calais its dramatic victory.
The two Down East rivals went back-and-forth throughout the second half, as Calais settled down and handled Woodland’s 1-2-2 zone press.
“I just told them to take their time, have some patience,” Calais coach Dana Redding said.
With Woodland up 49-47, the Blue Devils took over with 18.9 seconds left. Osborne got the ball in deep but was double-teamed, so she kicked it out to Brook Young, and the sophomore canned a mid-range jumper with six seconds to go.
Calais (12-6) led by as many as three in overtime, but Woodland rallied for a 56-55 lead on two free throws by Ashley Laking with 42.4 seconds left.
After Osborne (28 points, 13 rebounds) hit the back end of a two-shot foul with 31.2 seconds left, the Dragons turned it over on a travel near halfcourt.
Following a Calais timeout with 11 seconds left and a tipped ball out of bounds with 5.6 seconds to go, Osborne got the ball in the post, missed a shot but grabbed the rebound and was fouled by Kelsey Worden on the follow-up attempt.
“A lot of things went through my mind [when] I put up the shot and got fouled,” said Osborne.
Osborne swished both shots, and the Blue Devils celebrated at midcourt as the horn sounded.
“Just every emotion possible [went through my mind],” Osborne said. “I [kept my composure] for the most part.”
Osborne finished with 28 points and 13 rebounds, while Young scored eight points.
“They played well, that’s the best game I’ve seen Osborne play all year,” said Woodland coach Arnie Clark.
Knights (26 points, six steals) and Laking (14 points, three steals) shot well for the 15-3 Dragons, but the Blue Devils’ triangle defense bottled the paint and Woodland struggled attacking the basket consistently.