BANGOR, Maine — Max McHugh and Sam Brownell sparked an early surge that carried the Central High girls basketball team to a 45-30 victory over previously unbeaten Calais in their Eastern Maine Class C semifinal Friday at the Bangor Auditorium.
“Usually, we get off to a slow start,” said McHugh, a junior guard. “This time we came out fast, and that’s what we needed.”
McHugh, while also taking care of the bulk of the Red Devils’ ballhandling, scored six points in the first quarter and senior forward Brownell added four as Central took a 13-4 lead after one quarter and never looked back.
McHugh finished with a game-high 15 points, and Brownell added 12 for the Red Devils (17-3), who will take on Stearns of Millinocket in their 7:05 p.m. final on Saturday. Stearns downed Houlton 54-34 in the day’s final game.
Freshman guard Maddy McVicar led the Blue Devils with 11 points, and senior forward Allison Hill and junior forward Sierra Young had five each.
“We saw in the quarterfinals that everything ran through McVicar,” said McHugh. “Our focus was to shut her down.”
“We wanted to attack them,” said Red Devils assistant coach Frank Reynolds. “We were surprised when they came out [playing] man-to-man.
“We had more team quickness than they did and we took advantage.”
McVicar did score six in the second quarter and Young four as Calais (16-1) tried to come back, but Central freshman forward Brianna Skolfield scored five in the third to help blunt that effort.
“We came out trying to push the ball in the second half when what we needed to to do was slow it down,” said McHugh. “We played so much better in the fourth quarter and let them come to us.”
McHugh took over again in the fourth quarter as Central hit 11 free throws and one Brownell basket to close out the win.
Skolfield posted nine points for the Red Devils. Skolfield and Brownell were also key players in getting rebounds.
“We’ve been working on rebounding,” said McHugh. “We knew boxing out would be the key and it did disrupt them very much.”
The Calais offense couldn’t get untracked, and Reynolds put that on the Red Devils’ defensive plan.
“We wanted to make sure they did not get a lot of open shots, and we were able to do that with our man-to-man,” he said.
Central hasn’t won an East final since 1983, and they won the state championship that year.
“We’ll go in relaxed and hope for the best,” she said.
“Class C was anybody’s game,” she added. “We’ll just play our own game and pray for the best.”