BANGOR, Maine — The Bangor-based John Bapst High School Crusaders had watched senior guard Samantha Mason and her determined Ellsworth High School teammates whittle their 18-point second-quarter lead down to seven with 3:20 left in the third quarter.
But junior guard Abbey Legasse’s 3-pointer from the left corner triggered a string of nine unanswered points, and the seventh-seeded Crusaders went on to post a 55-39 victory over the No. 10 Eagles in a Class B North preliminary-round game on Tuesday evening at the Cross Insurance Center.
The Crusaders, 12-7, will take on No. 2 seed Presque Isle in the quarterfinal game at 9:05 a.m. Saturday at the Cross Insurance Center. The teams met in last year’s quarterfinals with Presque Isle notching a 51-35 triumph.
Ellsworth concluded a 9-10 campaign.
Legasse’s 3-pointer off a Tia Zephir pass made it 36-26, and junior forward Grace Philippon sank four free throws to close out the quarter to expand the lead to 40-26.
A Sydney Ellis basket off a Crystal Bell feed with 5:14 left in the fourth quarter, the first points of the final period, capped the decisive nine-point flurry.
Junior guard Bell and Philippon paced the Crusaders, combining for 40 points.
Bell had 22 points, a game-high 11 rebounds, four assists, three blocked shots and two steals, and Philippon contributed 18 points, eight rebounds and three steals.
Bell said Legasse’s 3-pointer “was a big momentum shot. We can always rely on Abbey to put in those corner [3-pointers].”
“I don’t shoot too often, but that was wide open, so I just took it,” said Legasse, who finished with eight points, four rebounds and two steals.
Mason capped her career with a memorable 24-point performance as she fearlessly drove the lane to keep her team in the game. She went 9-for-14 from the floor. She also had three rebounds.
“She’s a great player,” said Bell.
The Crusaders had lost to Ellsworth in Ellsworth 60-52 a week ago as the Eagles shot a blistering 71 percent from the floor.
But the Crusaders went to a 2-3 zone in the third quarter after playing player-to-player in the first half, and Ellsworth shot just 3-for-17 in the third quarter en route to a 24.6 percent shooting night over the 32 minutes (14-for-57).
“We needed a little break because we had been running up and down the court pretty fast,” said Philippon.
“Ellsworth struggled with that,” said John Bapst coach Mike Webb. “Our kids did a good job getting out on their shooters. I was proud of the way the kids played in the second half.”
John Bapst built a 28-10 lead in the second period, but the Eagles outscored them 10-2 to close out the half with Mason scoring seven of the points.
The Eagles outscored John Bapst 6-3 to open the third quarter behind Katelynn Bagley’s four points and Mason’s steal and layup.
But Legasse’s 3-pointer restored the double-digit lead.
“That is kind of what we’ve done all year,” said Ellsworth coach Andy Pooler. “We battled, but we dug ourselves too much of a hole tonight. Hats off to John Bapst. They played really well. They could be primed for a long run in the tournament.”
Bagley finished with five points, seven rebounds and two steals for Ellsworth, Hannah Sargent had four points, six rebounds and three steals, and Callie Hammer had seven rebounds, three steals and three blocks.