BANGOR, Maine — The Winslow Black Raiders imposed their gritty, guard-oriented style of play on the Hermon Hawks on Saturday afternoon.
In the end, the Hawks were able to overcome poor shooting, turnovers and missed free throws.
Junior forward Lauren Plissey went 4-for-4 from the foul line in the fourth quarter, her only points of the game, to help No. 4 Hermon earn a 35-33 Class B North semifinal victory over No. 5 Winslow at the Cross Insurance Center.
Coach Chris Cameron’s Hawks (15-4) now play No. 2 Presque Isle (15-4) in the 8:35 p.m. semifinal on Wednesday, Feb. 22.
“I’m glad that one’s over. That’s a tough team,” said Cameron.
Hermon prevailed despite shooting 31 percent (12-for-29) from the floor and only 47 percent (9-for-19) from the free-throw line. The Hawks also survived 16 turnovers.
“Handling their pressure was going to be the biggest challenge for us. Their full-court, run-and-jump was waiting for us,” said Cameron.
Neither team led by more than four points at any juncture, but Hermon finally clicked late.
Ciara LeClair’s 13-footer from the lane gave the Black Raiders a 31-30 lead with 2:47 left, but the Hawks scored the next five points.
Facilitator Lauren Plissey (13 rebounds, 5 blocked shots, 4 assists) fed her sister Paige Plissey underneath to put Hermon ahead for good and Madi Curtis hit one of two from the foul line. After Alex Allain missed two free throws, Lauren Plissey sank two to make it 35-31 with 15.1 seconds to play.
LeClair drove in for a basket with three seconds left, but Winslow could not get the ball back.
Hermon was led by senior forward Emi Higgins (13 points, 7 rebounds, 2 blocks), but the Hawks could not exploit their height advantage as the scrappy Black Raiders bottled up the paint with their player-to-player defense.
Winslow’s overall quickness in its guard-oriented scheme also posed problems for Hermon’s defense.
“They have a mixture of guards and shooters who are all able to penetrate,” Lauren Plissey said. “It made it a little rough on our defense, but we were able to adjust very well.”
Winslow’s run-and-jump press helped generate many of of the Hawks’ 16 turnovers, which led directly to 12 points.
“With our defense, we really look to transition the other way and look for easy scoring opportunities,” said Winslow coach Lindsey Withee. “We didn’t take advantage of those.”
Hermon got a big boost from sophomore Madi Curtis, who logged some key minutes with Higgins and Lauren Plissey out with foul trouble. She scored six of her seven points in the third quarter and finished with seven rebounds.
“That was a change in our rotation,” said Cameron. “Against this team, when we got in foul trouble, we ended up using her at the forward position.”
LeClair (14 points, 5 rebounds) and Heather Kirvin (13 points, 7 rebounds, 2 blocks) were the offensive leaders for Winslow. The Black Raiders shot 11-for-49 (22 percent).