BANGOR, Maine — The Waterville High School girls basketball team was eliminated in the Class B North quarterfinals by John Bapst of Bangor a year ago and didn’t even reach the preliminary round the previous three seasons.
But junior guard Sadie Garling scored eight of her game-high 16 points in the third quarter and sophomore forward Kali Thompson came off the bench to grab a game-high 14 rebounds and score six of her eight points in the fourth quarter as Waterville topped Hermon 49-38 in their Class B North semifinal at the Cross Insurance Center Wednesday night.
The 20-0 Panthers, the third seed, will face top seed Mount Desert Island (18-2), who rallied for a 57-51 overtime win over defending state champ Winslow in Saturday’s 2:05 p.m. regional championship game.
No. 2 Hermon wound up 17-3.
Waterville outscored Hermon 17-4 in the third period to turn a four-point deficit into a 35-26 lead entering the final quarter and the Hawks never got any closer than five the rest of the way.
Hermon pulled within five with 2:56 left but Thompson scored off an offensive rebound after a Garling free throw miss to trigger an 8-0 run that salted the game away.
Jayda Murray had seven points and four rebounds for the winners, Abby Saucier had seven points, Paige St. Pierre contributed six points and two assists and Maddy Martin chipped in nine rebounds, four blocked shots, two assists and three points.
Senior center Cait Tracy had 14 points to lead the Hawks. Paige Plissey had eight points and Madi Curtis finished with seven points, four assists, three rebounds and two steals.
Waterville, behind Thompson and Martin, outrebounded the taller Hawks 34-17 and that led to several second-chance points.
“I think that’s the first game all season that we’ve been outrebounded,” Hermon coach Chris Cameron said. “They worked hard, they got after it and beat us on the glass.”
Garling said a couple of her three 3-pointers came off Thompson’s offensive rebounds.
“She is awesome. I can’t picture this season without her,” Garling said.
“I just made sure I found the bigger girls and tried to box them out so I could get the rebound and get the ball back out top to reset the play,” said the high-jumping 5-foot-7 Thompson who transferred to Waterville from Arizona this year and had 14 rebounds in the quarterfinal win over John Bapst.
“She has been a nice addition. She’s super athletic and she’s fearless,” said Waterville coach Rob Rodrigue.
Garling said the team played much better than it did in its 44-35 win over John Bapst.
“We knew Hermon was going to be a better team. They’re a great team so we wanted to start strong and finish strong,” said Garling, who had a pair of 3-pointers and a two-pointer in the third period as Waterville went 6-for-9 from the floor while Hermon went just 2-for-8.
The Hawks used a 10-6 run to close within five before Thompson converted the offensive rebound and St. Pierre sandwiched a layup and two free throws around two Saucier foul shots.
“Basketball is a game of runs. They went a run and we couldn’t match their second run,” Cameron said.
The Panthers also did a much better job defending Tracy in the second half. She had 10 first-half points after pouring in 32 in a quarterfinal win over Presque Isle.
“We had to stop [Tracy]. We had to stop giving her wide open looks and we did that,” Garling said.