CORINTH, Maine — Shelby Caron said she isn’t used to having 20-point games.
Hermon High School’s senior forward did just that in a packed gym at Central High School on Saturday afternoon.
Caron complemented her 20-point outburst with nine rebounds, two assists and two steals to lead the Class B Hawks to a hard-fought 35-30 girls basketball triumph over the youthful Class C Red Devils.
“I got a lot of passes from my teammates. They were really looking for me,” said Caron.
“Shelby was a big player for us,” said junior guard Bryanne Crouse, who had a game-high five steals for 3-3 Hermon.
The battle-tested Hawks, who have already lost to 2014 Class B champion Mount Desert Island and runner-up Presque Isle, outrebounded Central 40-27 and did an exceptional job defensively as they were tenacious on the ball.
“We have worked so much in practice on boxing out because we struggled (rebounding) the first couple of games,” said the 5-foot-11½ Caron. “We did a good job of boxing out.”
“They were really tough on defense. They really pressured the ball,” said Central freshman point guard Sydney Allen, who paced the Red Devils (3-3) with 14 points, four rebounds and three steals. “We needed to box out more.”
“They’re very good. They have a tough schedule and it only makes them better,” said Central standout center Bre Skolfield, who finished with eight points and eight rebounds and was constantly swarmed by the aggressive Hawks.
“They double- and triple-teamed me and that makes it hard for our offense to flow,” said Skolfield.
“We felt we had to come out and play hard and play really good defense,” said Caron.
“Bre Skolfield is a really good player and we had to shut her down a little bit.”
The Hawks used multiple defenses including player-to-player and a 2-3 zone.
“We thought if we could come out and throw a couple of things at them, it might shake them up a little bit,” said Caron.
Allen’s runner from the top of the key with three seconds left in the third quarter pulled the Devils to within 29-24 entering the fourth quarter and Emma Campbell’s two steals and two baskets to open the fourth quarter narrowed the gap to 29-28.
Emi Higgins converted a Sierra Snow pass from short range to extend the lead to 31-28 but free throws by Natasha Miller and Allen shrunk the lead to one with 4:30 remaining.
Higgins sank a free throw with 2:48 to go and, after a traveling call on Central, Caron was fouled while shooting and she sank both free throws with 1:53 remaining to extend the lead to 34-30.
“I just try not to think about (free throws),” said Caron. “I try not to put a lot of pressure on myself.”
Caron went 6-for-7 from the foul line while the rest of the team went 3-for-16.
Allessa Oakes made an important steal with 30 seconds remaining and Caron made a foul shot three seconds later.
Caron had 10 points in the second quarter and eight came during a 13-4 run that supplied the Hawks with a 22-15 halftime lead.
Caron’s traditional three-point play built the lead to 29-22 in the third period before Allen hit her runner to close out the quarter.
“We didn’t execute today,” said Central coach Diane Rollins. “We were still trying to force the ball into someone (Skolfield) who was being triple-teamed. They have to understand that everybody needs to score.”
The Hawks received a stellar performance from 5-8 senior forward Kailee Dunton, who had a game-high 13 rebounds, two blocked shots and two assists. She also had two points.
Higgins contributed five points and seven rebounds off the bench and Snow came off the bench to provide a game-high three assists.
Campbell complemented Allen and Skolfield with seven points, three rebounds and three steals, Emily Smith had seven rebounds and Libby Cook chipped in with four rebounds and two blocked shots.
Hermon shot 28 percent from the floor (12-for-43) and 39.1 percent from the foul line (9-for-23) while Central shot 24.5 percent (12-for-49) and 33 percent (5-for-15), respectively.