HOULTON — Picking up right where they left off last season, which concluded with a second straight state championship, the Houlton girls basketball team opened their season Saturday with a convincing 72-50 win over Orono.

Shire junior Kolleen Bouchard led all players with 36 points, including a perfect 10-for-10 from the free throw line. Senior Rylee Warman chipped in 13 points and junior Aspen Flewelling added 11, despite sitting out a large chunk of the third quarter with foul trouble.

Hannah Steelman paced the Red Riots with 14 points, while Kassidy Dill added 11 (including three 3-pointers), Isabel Henderson had nine points and Lauren Melanson added eight.

Trailing 31-22 at the halftime break, Ororo clawed its way back with an 11-2 run making it 33-33 with six minutes to play in the third. Houlton went back on top 38-33 on a field goal and 3-pointer from Flewelling, but again Orono rallied to even things at 38-38 as Steelman converted two free throws and Dill drained a 3-pointer.

Clinging to a one-point lead after three quarters (45-44), Houlton upped its defensive intensity in the final period and rattled off 11 unanswered points to take a 58-44 lead. Orono never recovered as the team was ice cold from the floor. The Red Riots did not score their first points of the final period until the 4:05 mark and by then Houlton held a commanding lead.

“There wasn’t anything particular that we did defensively other than we started to show a little energy, intensity and hustle,” Houlton coach Shawn Graham said.

One area the coach was pleased with was his team’s free throws as Houlton converted 16-of-21 foul shots (76 percent). He also said he was impressed with how his team answered each Orono surge with one of their own.

Despite the victory, coach Graham said there was still much to work on. “We have played three preseason games and now this game, and we are giving up far too many points,” he said. “Our perimeter defense and help-side defense needs works. Our goal is to hold opponents to 40 or under, so we have a ways to go. It’s early. My hope is for us to be playing better and smarter by Christmas break.”

Orono boys handle Houlton

In the boys’ contest, the Red Riots handed Houlton, under new head coach Tim Brewer, its first loss of the season, 61-48. Orono led from the onset netting the first seven points of the game. Houlton finally broke the scoring ice about three minutes into the game and trailed just 14-8 at the end of the period.

Orono received a balanced scoring attack from Nate DeSisto (19 points), Keenan Collett (14 points), Jake Koffman (10 points) and Connor Robertson (9 points).

Houlton’s Cameron Graham led all players with 21 points, including four of five free throws, while Keegan Gentle added 11 points.

In the second quarter, Orono was able to push its lead to 11 at various points, but the Shires stayed within striking distance thanks to solid free throw shooting by Graham, who sank four of five foul shots, and Gentle who made both of his free throw attempts.

Leading 29-20 at the half, Orono managed to slowly build its lead into double digits as DeSisto scored seven of his 19 points in the period. In the final frame, Orono outscored the Shires 14-12 to maintain its double-digit lead until the final buzzer.

Girls’ game

Orono (50)
Steelman 2 9-12 14, Murphy, Dill 4 0-0 11, Richards 0 4-6 4, Henderson 2 4-5 9, Baker, Witham 1 0-0 2, Melanson 3 3-5 8, Sockabasin 1 0-0 2. Totals: 13 20-28 50.

Houlton (72)

Ewings 1 0-0 2, Graham, 2 2-2 6, Bouchard 13 10-10 36, Warman 6 1-3 13, Solomon, Brown, Peterson 1 0-3 2, Worthley, Brewer 0 2-2 2, Fitzpatrick, Flewelling 4 1-1 11. Totals: 27 16-21 72.

3 point goals — Hou: Flewelling 2; Orono: Dill 3, Steelman, Henderson.

Orono 12 22 44 50

Houlton 16 31 45 72

Boys’ game

Orono (61)

Koffman 4 2-3 10, DeSisto 8 1-4 19, Steelman, Spencer 1 0-1 3, Kenefic, Moran, Robertson 4 1-2 9, McCluskey, Coutts 3 0-1 6, Collett 3 8-13 14. Totals: 23 12-24.

Houlton (48)

Porter 1 0-0 2, Perfitt 1 0-0 3, Gentle 4 2-2 11, Fox 2 0-0 4, Graham 8 4-5 21, Worthley 0 1-2 1, Brewer 2 0-0 4, Cleary 1 0-0 2. Totals: 19 7-9 48.

3 point goals — Hou: Perfitt, Gentle, Graham. Orono: DeSisto 2, Spencer.

Orono 14 29 47 61

Houlton 8 20 36 38