BANGOR — While many of them may not even watch Green Bay try to win the Super Bowl Sunday, members of Bangor’s varsity girls basketball team have a lot in common with the Packers.
Just like the Packers, the Rams find themselves on the playoff bubble and — for all intents and purposes — in need of three wins in their final three games to secure a postseason spot.
“I hope we can have the same kind of run, but we can only play hard game by game and keep it going,” said Bangor senior forward Brianna McKenna.
Friday night, they played like it in a tight game they led Skowhegan by as many as 11, trailed by no more than three and saw six total lead changes plus four ties — all in the final eight minutes. Bangor finally won with plenty of tournament tension 64-58 in overtime with defense down the stretch.
Well, defense plus a few other key factors like team passing, scoring in the paint and the play of several players.
“It’s pretty much a three-way battle with us, them and Brewer, so this is huge for us. We basically have to win out to get in,” said Bangor coach Katie Herbine, whose Rams improved to 10-6 and avenged an earlier loss to the Indians, now 9-7.
Bangor had plenty of heroines in this one. Hillary Throckmorton led the team with 22 points, five assists and three steals. Kim Jordan added 12 points, eight rebounds, two steals and a big 3-pointer that tied the game with 98 seconds left in regulation. Kristen Henigan had five points, a game-high 11 rebounds, and two blocks; McKenna finished with 13 points, and four of her five rebounds came on the offensive boards in the final 12 minutes; and Denae Johnson recorded two big blocks in the last eight minutes.
“It’s nice to know we have a lot of players who can do a lot of things so everyone steps up when they need to and we don’t have to rely on one person,” said Jordan, who iced the win by hitting three of four free throws in overtime.
The Rams and Indians made it worth the price of admission and then some as they eschewed zone, creative or junk defenses and played each other straight up pretty much throughout the contest.
That worked against the Rams at times, but not in the final four minutes when it counted the most.
“We get a little bit overly aggressive and just run at the one with the ball, so I told them to stay home more and stay true to their players,” Herbine said of Bangor’s defensive strategy.
It was quite a challenge for the Rams as Skowhegan’s shooters really got warmed up in the second half. Amanda Johnson scored 20 of her game-high 23 points after halftime and fellow captain Adrienne Davis scored 11 of her 16 in the same time frame.
Davis also had five rebounds plus game highs of six assists and four steals.
It looked like Johnson, who hit a 3-pointer to tie the game with 3:30 left in regulation, might have hit the shot of the night when she canned another 3 to tie it (58-58) with 1:50 left in overtime, but Bangor’s defense kept Skowhegan scoreless the rest of the way.
“They have a lot of good shooters, so we just had to talk a lot to keep them covered. We couldn’t give up because that’s happened to us before and cost us,” said Jordan.
It seemed as though it would again as the Indians went on a run and turned an 11-point Bangor lead 30 seconds into the fourth quarter into a tie game with 4:02 left. Johnson scored 12 of Skowhegan’s 15 points during a pivotal four-minute span.
“You can play great defense for awhile on them and then someone gets open and hits a big shot like Johnson, but we just had to stay with it and they did,” Herbine said.