BANGOR, Maine — Piscataquis girls basketball coach Brian Gaw will be the first to admit his Pirates aren’t the tallest team in Class C North.
In spite of that, the Pirates of Guilford are quick and tenacious, especially when it comes to rebounding.
It was that trait that was the key to success for third-ranked PCHS on Wednesday morning as it cruised to a 53-21 quarterfinal victory over Woodland at the Cross Insurance Center.
The Pirates outworked, outhustled and took care of the ball better of the Dragons in improving their record to 15-4 and earning a semifinal date with second-ranked George Stevens Academy of Blue Hill on Friday at 7:05 p.m.
Woodland ends the season 12-8.
The Pirates and Eagles split their regular-season meetings, each winning at home.
It wasn’t exactly a crisp start for Gaw’s Pirates on Wednesday, as they committed a few turnovers in the game’s opening minutes, but PCHS ended the first quarter on a 10-2 run and continued to increase that lead throughout the contest.
“We played them in a prelim last year. We knew what they had,” said Pirates guard Erin Speed, who led all scorers with 21 points.
Alivia Hunt, who scored 14 points, was the key cog to PCHS’ rebounding efforts with 11 boards.
“She’s one of our better rebounders,” Gaw said. “She hustles to eat breakfast. She’s one of the best 5-foot-6 rebounders I’ve ever had.”
The Pirates led 23-10 at halftime and held Woodland to four field goals over the second and third quarters in outscoring the Dragons 38-9 over that span.
Speed, whose dribble-penetration gave Woodland fits on the defensive end, also had six rebounds while Sara Almirante recorded 10 points and three assists.
“We’re a very short team so a lot of the teams that we play are taller than us, so we’ve just got to get in there,” Speed said.
PCHS was also able to use its quickness to its advantage on the 94-foot Cross Center court, forcing the Dragons to commit 14 turnovers.
“We got to spread them out there and get them out of their comfort zone on defense,” Gaw said.
Woodland was also quite uncomfortable on offense, as the Dragons shot only 9-for-46 (19 percent) for the game.
A lot of that had to do with the Pirates, however.
“They played hard, and I’ve never had a team up and down the lineup that works any harder,” Gaw said.
Speed had 12 of her points in the second half in the Pirates quickly quieting any thoughts of a rally by the Dragons.
Jennie Cox scored nine points for Woodland while Sadie Smith tallied eight points.