PORTLAND, Maine — With both teams sparking their offenses through strong defensive play, the Presque Isle Wildcats and West champion Lake Region Lakers of Naples could well re-create last year’s Class B girls basketball state championship, which went down to the last possession.
Eastern Maine champion Presque Isle (21-0) pulled out a 49-47 victory over West representative Lake Region (19-2) in Bangor last year, and the two teams meet again at 7 p.m. Friday at the Cumberland County Civic Center in Portland. Both teams were seeded No. 1 in their regionals.
Two of the key players from last year are back again Friday, senior point guard Chandler Guerrette of Presque Isle and junior center Tiana-Jo Carter of Lake Region, and both have had strong regional tournament performances.
Guerrette won her second straight Owen Osborne Award for being the MVP of the Class B girls tourney at the Bangor Auditorium, and Carter was named the Mike DiRenzo Award winner as the outstanding player in the West regional in Portland.
The 5-foot-5-inch Guerrette is an accomplished dribbler who often slices through defenses looking to get points, draw fouls or both. Over the three games, she averaged 14.7 points, four rebounds, five assists and 3.3 steals. She was also 10-of-11 (91 percent) from the free-throw line.
The 6-2 Carter has been a scorer and a monster rebounder, grabbing 17 in the 50-24 WM final victory over No. 2-seeded York.
Guerrette is complemented by senior guard Megan Ireland, who also was named to the East B all-tourney team after leading the Wildcats with 18 points a game and shooting 10-of-19 (53 percent) on 3-pointers. She also averaged 2.7 assists and four steals.
Sophomore guard Hannah Graham and senior forward Karlee Bernier add outside shooting. Graham led the team in rebounds with 4.7 a game, and Bernier had the most offensive rebounds with seven total.
Meredith Stewart, the Wildcats’ 5-11 senior center, added four rebounds a game and was a key shot blocker as well.
Those five starters plus sophomore forward Krystal Kingsbury accounted for nearly 90 percent of the team’s tourney scoring, but coach Jeff Hudson doesn’t hesitate to put in any of his players because they are nearly interchangeable.
With Carter are the Hancock sisters — senior Sydney, sophomore Sarah and freshman Sierra, all guards. They will be the Lakers tasked with defending Guerrette, Ireland, Graham and Bernier on the outside.
Carter had to miss parts of last year’s title game because of foul trouble, but she still led the team with 17 points, and Sydney Hancock and Sarah Hancock added eight apiece, so both teams will have plenty of experience playing in the state final.
Senior forward Kelsey Winslow will help Carter cover the inside, but the Wildcats know who to watch out for.
“Carter is the one we need to focus on,” said Ireland after Saturday’s 66-51 win over Nokomis of Newport in the final.
Hudson, whose Wildcats are on a 43-game winning streak, is sure Laker coach Paul True will have his team ready to take on Presque Isle again.
“We’re going to have to play our best game of the year to stay with them,” said Hudson on Saturday as he looked ahead to Friday’s finale.