MARS HILL, Maine — Central Aroostook secured a playoff spot in Bangor Tuesday evening as the Panthers beat Searsport, 78-37, in a Class C North home prelim.
The No. 6 Panthers (15-4) handily beat the No. 11 seed Vikings (8-11) thanks to a stellar game from CA senior Breann Bradbury (27 points) and junior Maci Beals (21 points), and a consistent defense that prevented Searsport from keeping up. Libby Grass chipped in 13 points including three 3-pointers.
Central Aroostook plays No. 3 seed Fort Fairfield (17-2) in the quarterfinals 9:30 a.m. Tuesday, Feb. 18 at the Cross Insurance Center. The Panthers are the only team to beat Fort Fairfield this season, having done so twice, 61-51 on Dec. 13 and 50-34 on Jan. 24.
Central Aroostook coach Dillon Kingsbury said he thought his team played pretty well, though he thought its offense took time to pick up. He said he was looking forward to the tournament.
“We are very excited to get to Bangor,” Kingsbury said. “But we’re just getting started and still have a lot to play for.”
Tuesday’s prelim started out low-scoring, with Central Aroostook taking an early 9-3 lead at the end of the first quarter.
The Panthers began to build on its lead in the second quarter, in which the team scored 23 points. Eight of those were from junior Libby Grass, which included two 3-pointers. Searsport had a second quarter with a single-digit offense, only scoring seven points and ensuring that the score was 32-10 at halftime.
The Panthers ran away with the game in the third, with massive offensive production from Bradbury propelling them to a 32-point lead by the end of the quarter — 57-25.
Central Aroostook had another offensive explosion in the fourth as Beals dropped another 14 points on the visiting Vikings.
Junior Makenzie Alley led the Vikings with an impressive 22-point performance, including five 3-pointers. Senior Abby Stemp scored 11 points, including three out of three free throws, and sophomore Abby Astbury and junior Sarah Gent each added two.