BANGOR, Maine — The Bangor High School girls basketball team has taken pride in its defense all season long and it served the Rams well again on Thursday night.
The third-seeded Rams held No. 6 Cheverus to a 23.1 percent shooting performance from the floor and outrebounded the smaller Stags by 16 en route to a 50-38 victory in their Class AA North quarterfinal at the Red Barry Gym.
Bangor (12-7) takes on Deering of Portland in the semifinals next Wednesday at 2 p.m. at the Cross Insurance Arena in Portland.
Cheverus, with just one senior on the roster, finished up at 5-14.
Sophomore forward Junior Libby Fleming paced the Rams with a game-high 13 points to go with eight rebounds. Junior guard Rowan Andrews had 11 points, four rebounds and two assists and Abby Fleming, Libby’s twin, and sophomore forward Maggie Cowperthwaite posted eight points each.
Cowperthwaite had six rebounds and Abby Fleming grabbed four.
Meg Kelly’s 12 points topped the Stags. Lauren Jordan contributed eight points and eight rebounds and Lillie Singleton had eight points.
“We played real well,” Rowan Andrews said. “[Good] defense is our No. 1 goal. When we lock teams down on defense, we’re able to transition to offense.”
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“Defense is our main focus,” Abby Fleming agreed. “We box out, rebound and make sure we shut down the other team’s best shooters.”
Cheverus coach Brian Heal was impressed with Bangor’s player-to-player defense.
“They don’t give you a lot. They aren’t real tall but they’re long and they take up a lot of space,” Heal said. “They’re well-coached. They don’t gamble. They force you to take a shot you don’t want and they box out really well.”
Bangor held Cheverus without a field goal in the first quarter and to two in the first half in building a 23-11 halftime lead.
Bangor expanded the lead to 39-21 early in the fourth quarter.
But the scrappy Stags didn’t quit, reeling off 10 unanswered points to pull within eight with 3:56 remaining.
After Libby Fleming ended a long scoring drought for the Rams with a basket, Helena Bolduc and Jordan answered for Cheverus to whittle the lead to six.
But Rowan Andrews’ 3-pointer with 2:30 remaining gave the Rams some valuable breathing room and, after a Kelly free throw, Libby Fleming converted two foul shots with 1:20 left to sew up the victory.
Bangor never trailed, scoring the game’s first six points including a foul line jumper and a putback off an offensive rebounds by Cowperthwaite.
A Kelly 3-pointer early in the second period cut Bangor’s lead to 8-5 and that was the closest Cheverus was to come as Bangor responded with seven straight points.
An 11-6 Bangor run in the third quarter gave Bangor a 34-17 lead.
“I thought we played really well,” said Bangor coach Joe Nelson. “The girls competed hard. Defensively, we had a really good first half and, overall, a really good game. We tried to limit their penetration, we got out on some of their shooters and we finished the possession with a rebound.
“Offensively, we had good ball movement and we attacked the basket when it was open at times. We were able to withstand their pressure, we had good spacing and we were able to score against their pressure,” added Nelson.