AUGUSTA, Maine — Bangor High School has had a history of widespread athletic success during the 31 years since it last brought home championship hardware in girls basketball.
The drought in that sport finally ended Friday night, as sophomore forward Cordelia Stewart scored 19 points and grabbed 12 rebounds to lead the Rams to their first Eastern Maine Class A crown since 1982 with a 57-43 victory over Cony of Augusta at the Augusta Civic Center.
“I think it’s great for our community,” said third-year Bangor head coach Katie Herbine, a alumnae of the school. “That’s one thing that we really wanted to bring back when I came here along with my staff was to get the community back behind the Bangor girls’ basketball team. I think we’ve done that.”
Second-seeded Bangor (17-4) advances to the state final against the winner of Saturday’s Western Maine final between McAuley and Cheverus at 4 p.m. Saturday, March 2, also at the Augusta Civic Center.
Cony, the No. 9 seed and defending regional champion, ends its season with a 14-8 record.
Senior guard Denae Johnson added 10 points and 13 rebounds for Bangor, while freshman guard Sarah Bragg also scored 10 points and sophomore forward Mary Butler contributed 10 rebounds to help the Rams outrebound Cony 50-28.
“Cony’s tallest player is 5-8, so that’s definitely a tough task for them to try to rebound against 6-1 (Butler) and 6-2 (Stewart) and some taller guards,” said Herbine. “We did a great job of going to the boards and getting the rebounds. We did a nice job inside.”
Bangor’s defense also slowed Cony star Josie Lee, who was limited to 13 points on 5-of-24 shooting.
Cony shot just 22 percent (16 of 73) from the field overall, including 5 of 28 from beyond the 3-point arc.
“We did a really good job in our 1-2-2 zone,” said Herbine. “We have had a little bit of trouble with getting out on 3-point shooters so we’ve had to go man in a couple of our games, but they did a great job tonight of understanding what we wanted to prevent and letting some things go, and understanding that we would let the twos go so that they didn’t make as many threes.”
Bangor, already shorthanded after starting center Rachel Taft was injured in an automobile accident earlier in the day, had to go deeper into its bench when Butler picked up her third foul with 6:30 left in the first half.
Bangor turned to a smaller lineup with the 5-foot-5-inch Liz Dana replacing the 6-1 Butler and proceeded to outscore Cony 16-2 during the next six minutes to take command of the contest.
Fast-break offense sparked by several Cony turnovers and the offensive rebounding of Stewart and Johnson fueled what turned out to be the game’s decisive run, which expanded a 15-11 Bangor lead at the end of the first quarter to a 31-13 cushion on a drive by Jordan Seekins with 34 seconds left in the second quarter.
Stewart, Bragg and Dana each scored four points during that run.
“We knew we had to keep playing with the same intensity,” said Johnson. “Liz came in and she just brought us so much energy. She stepped up and just did what she knew she had to do. She did really well.”
Trailing 31-16 after intermission, Cony was unable to get closer than 11 points during the second half.