June 23, 2018
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Stewart, Butler, Johnson help Bangor girls earn pointworthy win over Oxford Hills

By Larry Mahoney, BDN Staff

BANGOR, Maine — It had all the ingredients of a thriller.

It was the No. 4 team in the Eastern Maine Class A schoolgirl basketball Heal points standings in Oxford Hills of South Paris visiting the No. 6 Bangor High School Rams in a makeup game Monday night at the Red Barry Gym. Both teams entered the game at 7-3.

But there turned out to be very little drama as coach Katie Herbine’s Rams rattled off 20 unanswered points in the first quarter and cruised to a 65-36 triumph.

The Vikings simply had no answer for Bangor’s twin towers: 6-foot-2 sophomores Cordelia Stewart and Mary Butler as Stewart scored a game-high 18 points and grabbed 14 rebounds and Butler contributed 11 points and 10 rebounds.

Senior point guard Denae Johnson also played an integral role in the win as she had 14 points, three rebounds and two steals. Sarah Bragg had eight points and Jordan Seekins and Rachel Taft had five apiece. Seekins dished out three assists as Bangor won for the fourth time in five games.

Junior guard Crystal West led Oxford Hills with nine points and Abbie Eastman had five to go with four rebounds. Molly Johnson, Kelsey DeBlois and Tianna Sugars had four points each. Oxford Hills had won four of its previous five entering the game.

Bangor mixed up its defenses, using 1-2-2 and 1-3-1 zones to go with occasional full-court pressure, to force a number of Vikings turnovers while also completely controlling the boards.

Bangor outrebounded Oxford Hills 39-13.

After a West 3-pointer gave Oxford Hills a 3-2 lead, the Rams went on their 20-0 run with Stewart scoring 11 points and Johnson accounting for six more. Taft chipped in with a 3-pointer.

A Johnson six-foot runner triggered the spurt and Stewart scored the next five with two free throws and a traditional three-point play.

Four free throws by Johnson made it 13-3 and Stewart muscled in her own rebound before Taft nailed her 3-pointer off a Seekins pass. Four Stewart free throws capped the rally.

Oxford Hills mounted a small rally in the second quarter with an 8-0 run that cut the lead to 28-13 with four minutes left in the half.

Mikayla Morin’s traditional three-point play, a West 3-pointer from the top of the key and Sugars’ basket off an Eastman pass accounted for the run.

But Bangor outscored Oxford Hills 8-4 to close out the half and opened the third quarter with a 10-4 run that expanded the lead to a comfortable 46-21.

“We moved the ball well and we shared the basketball tonight,” said Herbine. “That’s the key to us playing well.

“And this is the first team I’ve had that can change defenses without me having to call a timeout,” added Herbine.

Johnson said the Rams did a nice job pushing the ball up the floor and creating a fast tempo. And when they didn’t couldn’t get a shot off the fast break, they dumped it inside to Stewart and Butler.

“And I thought we confused them with our (various) defenses,” said the speedy Johnson. “This was one of our best games of the season.”

“We played real well as a team tonight,” agreed Stewart who also pointed out that they have worked a lot on their movement in the paint to get open looks at the basket.

Oxford Hills’ Eastman said, “We weren’t ready when we got off the bus. The first quarter killed us.”

Oxford Hills coach Nate Pelletier said Bangor “outworked us.

“They were ready to battle and we weren’t. We backed off, which isn’t like us,” said Pelletier.

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