BANGOR, Maine — Houlton High School senior guard Rylee Warman was shooting in her high school gym 45 minutes before the top-seeded Shires got on the bus to head to Bangor for Saturday afternoon’s Class B North quarterfinal against No. 8 Mount Desert Island of Bar Harbor.
“Two nights ago, she took 600 shots in the gym,” said Houlton coach Shawn Graham after watching Warman score 13 points, including a crucial 3-pointer with three minutes left, to help the Shiretowners hold off the upset-minded Trojans 47-39 at the Cross Insurance Center.
Houlton (18-1) will take on No. 4 Hermon (15-4) in Wednesday’s 7:05 p.m. semifinal.
The defending two-time state champion Shires had a comfortable 29-12 lead with 6:15 left in the third period.
But the determined Trojans (12-8) went on an 18-2 run, behind Maddy Candage’s seven points, to pull within a point.
Houlton clung to a 37-36 lead when Warman nailed her 3 from left side of the key.
“I wasn’t even thinking about it. Kolleen (Bouchard) set me a screen and it just went off my fingers,” said Warman.
Bouchard said it wasn’t an easy shot, “because (Warman) was leaning forward. There was a girl right behind her. That was great.”
“That was huge,” said Graham. “I like the fact she’s been in that situation many times the past couple of years. She didn’t hesitate. When she came off the dribble, her head was on the rim.”
“That was the dagger. We couldn’t quite get over the edge (after that),” said MDI coach Brent Barker.
Julia Watras sank a free throw to make it 40-37 but Bouchard hit two foul shots with 1:59 remaining and Tessa Solomon scored from underneath 19 seconds later to expand the lead to seven.
“With three minutes left, we were looking for a sparkplug off the bench and Tessa did exactly what we needed. She finished a layup, she defended, she rebounded and she hustled,” said Graham, who thought his team got “totally outworked” by the Trojans but “snuck out of her with an ugly win.”
Bouchard said MDI’s quickness and “a trap that was a lot more intense than we thought it would be” provided a stiff challenge but “we were able to keep our composure, make the right passes and make free throws.”
“Our girls don’t give up and they work their tails off,” said Barker. “This shows the character they have.”
Bouchard finished with 18 points, eight rebounds and two steals and Warman had three steals to go with her 13 points. Solomon wound up with six points.
Julia Watras’ nine points, four rebounds and two steals led MDI. Mariah Hamor posted eight points, five rebounds and two assists, Candage had seven points and Maya Watras chipped in with six points and five rebounds. Good provided six rebounds and four points and Abbe Miller added three assists and four points.