The top-seeded and two-time defending Class D basketball state champion Southern Aroostook High School girls found themselves in a dogfight with the determined second-seeded Deer Isle-Stonington Mariners in their Class D North championship game Saturday morning.
The Warriors needed someone to step up and 5-foot-11 junior center Kacy Daggett did just that.
Daggett scored five straight points and then fed Makaelyn Porter for a back-door layup as Southern Aroostook rattled off 11 unanswered points spanning the third and fourth quarters en route to a 52-33 triumph at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor.
The Warriors (21-0) play Class D South champion Greenville next Saturday at 1 p.m. at the Augusta Civic Center. No. 1 Greenville beat No. 3 Valley of Bingham 45-32 on Saturday.
The Mariners ended the season at 18-3.
Southern Aroostook clung to a 26-24 lead after the Mariners had reeled off a 10-5 run, fueled by Katie Hutchinson’s six points.
Daggett began the Warriors’ 11-0 run with a driving layup, then hit a traditional 3-point play off a nice spin move to the basket.
After Daggett fed Porter for an uncontested layup, Porter passed to Maddie Russell for a jumper from the top of the key and Porter capped the surge with an 11-foot jumper off a Cami Shields pass.
“I felt if I saw an open rim, I was going to take it to the basket. I did what I needed to do for my team to win,” said Daggett, who finished with 11 points, a game-high 13 rebounds and two blocked shots.
“That hurt us,” said Deer Isle-Stonington coach Randy Shepard.
“Kacy has done that all year long,” said Southern Aroostook coach Cliff Urquhart. “She’s a veteran. She’s been here before.”
“We definitely needed to get the ball in the post to Kacy,” Porter said.
The determined Mariners did pull within nine in the fourth quarter but freshman standout Russell converted a traditional 3-point play off her lefthanded runner and Paige Vose fed Shields for a fastbreak layup to restore the lead to 14 and the Mariners couldn’t get any closer than 11 the rest of the way.
Senior guard Porter was Southern Aroostook’s leading scorer with a game-high 20 points, 14 of those coming in the second half. She also had five rebounds, three steals and two assists.
Russell had 13 points and three rebounds and Emma Nadeau produced four points, four rebounds and two steals.
Senior guard Brittany Gray’s 10 points and four rebounds and senior forward Hutchinson’s eight points and eight rebounds led the Mariners. Junior guard Kaylee Morey posted seven points and two assists, freshman Macey Brown chipped in four points off the bench and junior Rylee Eaton had four rebounds, two assists and two steals to go with two points.
Porter said their uptempo style of play took its toll on the Mariners.
“We kept running and that tired them out. We won the battle of attrition,” said Porter. “They were a very good opponent. They knew what they needed to do to beat us and executed it in the first half but we pulled away in the second half.”
Deer Isle-Stonington shot just 3-for-13 from the floor in the fourth quarter and wound up shooting 12-for-46 from the floor for the game.
“I don’t think we were tired,” said Deer Isle-Stonington’s Morey. “Our defense wasn’t strong in the second half and we couldn’t hit our shots today. They were hitting down low and we were fouling them.”
Urquhart said they went to a triangle-and-two defense in the fourth quarter and it worked effectively.
“I wanted to give them a different look. They were eating our man-to-man up,” explained Urquhart, who wanted to shut down Morey and Eaton.