BANGOR, Maine — The No. 7 Hodgdon girls basketball team took advantage of a strong second-half defensive effort and free-throw shooting in the fourth quarter to knock off No. 3 Central Aroostook of Mars Hill 42-37 Thursday evening at the Bangor Auditorium for a berth in Saturday morning’s Eastern Maine Class D championship game.
The Hawks, which lost to the Panthers twice in the regular season, will face the winner of Thursday’s second semifinal between No. 1 Washburn, the defending state champion, and No. 4 Van Buren. Hodgdon beat Van Buren twice in the regular season but did not play Washburn.
“We just knew we had to step up our game and play the best we could,” said Hodgdon junior center Jennah Steamer, who had 14 points and 18 rebounds.
Mariah Wiley led the Hawks with 17 points, seven of which came at the free-throw line in the fourth quarter. She also had a key basket on a baseline drive 1 minute, 4 seconds into the fourth period that ended a 5-0 Central Aroostook run that had cut Hodgdon’s lead to 30-29.
The Panthers went 2-for-11 from the field in the fourth quarter, while the Hawks went 10-for-15 from the free-throw line.
“We really had to remain calm,” Wiley said of the final period. “We’re usually frazzled, but we’ve been working on that.”
The second quarter was a series of runs for both teams, who were tied 10-10 after the first quarter. Hodgdon struggled early against Central Aroostook’s 3-2 zone, but Hawks center Steamer was able to work inside and scored twice in a 6-0 run that gave Hodgdon a seven-point cushion.
“I thought they would come out in that zone but I thought if we could just lob it over the top and get it to Jennah and be patient,” Hodgdon coach Vaughn Farrar said. “In the beginning we had trouble with it but then Jennah posted up and got into good position, and that helped us ease into it.”
The Panthers rallied to pull within one point at halftime.
Central Aroostook senior forward Vicki McIntyre scored 13 points before fouling out.
“I think [McIntyre’s offensive foul in the first quarter] affected her, and every time she went inside she was going to get one,” Central Aroostook coach Stori Shaw said. “We were just very inconsistent. We didn’t give up — we never give up. That’s something that we do very well.”