The top-seeded Stearns High School girls basketball team was tested in the first half by eighth-seeded Central, a team it had beaten by 38 and 31 points during the regular season.
But the Minutemen from Millinocket used an 18-6 run spanning the second and third quarters to build a 21-point cushion and pulled away for a convincing 63-40 victory in their Class C North semifinal at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor on Tuesday night.
Stearns, now 17-2, faces 20-0 Calais in Friday’s 3:30 p.m. semifinal at the Cross Insurance Center.
Central of Corinth finished up at 15-5.
“The girls played hard and we’ve been a second-half team all year,” said Stearns coach Nick Cullen. “We pride ourselves on being in better condition [than our opponents].”
“We played transition basketball. We beat them down the court and got layups,” said senior guard Katherine Alley, who registered 15 points, three steals and three assists.
Younger sister Alisyn, a sophomore guard, also scored 15 points and added six rebounds, five steals and four assists.
Five-foot-11 junior forward Annalys Robinson supplied a dominant inside presence to complement the Alley sisters with 13 points and nine rebounds.
Junior forward Katie Kenyon produced three 3-pointers for nine points and she also had six rebounds and three assists. Makayla Anderson came off the bench to score seven points and Kasey Kenyon had four points and four rebounds.
“This was one of our best games of the year,” said Robinson. “We started out strong and kept the intensity throughout the entire game. We’re unstoppable when everybody is scoring.”
Central was led by hardworking senior forward Emilee Cohen’s game-high 16 points and four rebounds. Senior guard Abi Allen chipped in with nine points and five rebounds and freshman Rylee Speed wound up with five points. Senior Ali Shaw had four points and four rebounds.
Cohen had 14 of her points in the first half and pulled Central within 31-22 with less than two minutes remaining until the break.
But Alisyn Alley fed sister Katherine for a driving layup, Katherine Alley sank a free throw and Alisyn passed to Anderson for a layup to close out the half and expand the lead to 36-22.
It was 40-27 early in the second half when Stearns authored a 9-1 run to break the game open.
Robinson had four of the points and Katherine Alley had a traditional three-point play resulting from her steal and layup.
“We couldn’t stop their runs and they killed us on the boards,” said Central coach Jamie Russell, whose Red Devils were outrebounded 35-20.