AUGUSTA, Maine — From the opening tap Saturday afternoon, Sophie Holmes and the Messalonskee girls basketball team were on a mission, and there was nothing that Brunswick could do to stop them.
The Eagles were in command right from the start, blitzing the Dragons with a game-starting 17-2 run and never looking back en route to a dominating 58-33 Class A state championship victory at the Augusta Civic Center.
Messalonskee of Oakland, which never trailed, put the finishing touch on an undefeated season (22-0) and clinched the program’s first state championship since 1987, when the Eagles played in Class B.
Class A South champ Brunswick wound up 18-4.
Even though Messalonskee bolted to a 15-point lead, Brunswick scored seven straight points to end the first quarter and start the second to make it an eight-point game. That’s when the Eagles started to buckle down.
Holmes connected on a one-hander in the lane to ignite a 10-0 run and Messalonskee would lead by double digits the rest of the way.
The Eagles’ quickness on defense was an instrumental part in building their lead, as they held the Dragons to six first-half field goals (6-for-29) while Holmes and Alyssa Turner collaborated for 18 of Messalonskee’s 29 first-half points.
“We try to focus on defense because our defense definitely brings our offense,” said Holmes.
Messalonskee was unfazed by Brunswick’s early run, as the Dragons had made a similar surge late in their Class A South regional win over Greely of Cumberland Center.
“This is a team that makes runs, they’re capable of reeling off 14-15 points in a row,” said Messalonskee coach Keith DeRosby. “We knew it was coming. We expected them, they’re not going to go down without making that effort.”
“We’ve seen them do that so we knew we had to adjust,” Holmes said.
Alyssa Turner, who scored 12 points, was particularly a force on the defensive end as she was able to use her quickness and length to disrupt Brunswick’s offense.
“We were able to create a lot of havoc and chaos,” said DeRosby.
Holmes was able to use her quickness off the dribble and outstanding floor vision to keep Brunswick off balance, and her ability to create jump shots off the dribble was virtually unstoppable.
Even when the Dragons focused their defense on stopping Holmes, she was able to locate Turner, McKenna Brodeur (nine points) and Alyssa Genness (seven points).
“We have six girls on our team that have gone over double-digits [this year],” Holmes said. “We have so many talented shooters.”
Messalonskee held Brunswick to two third-quarter field goals to quickly erase any hopes of the Dragons forging any sort of comeback. By the time Brunswick was finally able to generate some open looks, it was too late.
“We just had to get out on shooters and give them a hard time,” said Holmes.
Brunswick shot just 13 of 56 from the floor and their offensive miscues led to chances on the other end for Messalonskee.
“A lot of our offense is created by our defense,” DeRosby said.
Sabrina Armstrong scored 13 points and Madeline Shur tallied 10 for the Dragons.