BANGOR, Maine — The Hermon girls basketball team entered their Wednesday Class B semifinals with tons of momentum, as the 11th-ranked Hawks had upset sixth-ranked John Bapst and No. 3 Medomak Valley to earn a date with Presque Isle.
However, the second-ranked Wildcats quickly ended that momentum with strong defense and a stellar shooting effort by Hannah Graham for a 74-53 victory at the Cross Insurance Center.
Coach Jeff Hudson’s Wildcats (18-2) advanced to their fourth consecutive regional championship game, while Hermon finished the season 10-11.
Graham, the Darling’s/BDN Most Valuable Player, led the Wildcats in double figures with 23 points. Krystal Kingsbury had 18, and Taylor Williams had 15.
The Wildcats led from wire to wire, establishing an early tempo with perimeter shooting and pressure defense to build an 11-2 lead.
The Hawks responded with six unanswered points, but Presque Isle took control, ending the first quarter with an 8-0 run and not looking back.
The combination of Hermon’s foul trouble and Presque Isle’s 3-point shooting allowed the Wildcats to build a 40-18 halftime lead that was never threatened.
“When we make shots, we’re awfully tough to beat,” Hudson said. “If it’s open on the perimeter, we’ll take it because we can shoot the [3-pointer] with anybody.”
Williams certainly proved that. The junior shot 4-6 from beyond the arc, and the Wildcats were 10-21 as a unit.
“We had a joke on the bus. Krystal was talking, and she spit in [Williams’] eye, and we thought that would mean a lucky day for Williams,” Graham said.
The Wildcats would need no such luck, and Graham held Hermon star Claire Petersen in check.
Petersen did not play during regular-season matchups because of injury.
“We knew with her coming back that she provides a lot for their team, so we needed to shut her down,” Graham said.
Defense and rebounding were the two factors that pleased Hudson the most.
“We rebounded the best we have all year,” he said. “We played an all-around great game today.”
The scary thing for Presque Isle’s next opponent — Gardiner — is that Hudson still believes his club hasn’t peaked.
“I still think we can play better. We’re going to have to,” he said.
Bryanne Crouse’s nine points led Hermon, while Shelby Caron and Katie Corey had eight each. Petersen was held to six.