There was nothing pretty about Friday night’s Class B girls basketball state championship game between Wells and Hermon at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor.
The two teams combined to shoot 5-for-39 from the floor in the second half and there were more turnovers than a resort breakfast buffet. But in the end, Wells earned its first-ever state title by holding Hermon scoreless for the game’s final 9:21 en route to a 34-26 victory.
“That was a pretty good defensive effort,” Wells coach Don Abbott said. “We have a saying in our program: ‘Win anyway [you can].’ You have to find ways to win whether it’s pretty or not. That gold ball is still shiny. We’ll take it.”
The win was Wells’ 10th in its last 11 games, the only loss coming to Class A South runner-up Greely of Cumberland Center.
Wells finished at 16-6 while North champ Hermon, which had won 10 straight games, wound up 20-2.
“This was one of our lowest scoring games of the year so we had to tighten up on defense,” said junior guard Mallory Aromando who keyed the Warriors’ defensive effort with four blocked shots.
Sophomore forward Grace Ramsdell scored 14 points and grabbed 11 rebounds, both game highs, to pace the Warriors. Older sister Grace Ramsdell, the most outstanding player in the South tournament, finished with nine points and five rebounds.
But it was Aromando who came through with a crucial runner in the middle of the lane to tie the game at 26-26 with 3:10 left in the fourth quarter. Neither team scored again in regulation.
Her free throw to open the overtime gave Wells the lead for good.
“The coaches told me they would be focusing on Grace and Franny so I needed to step it up and that’s what I tried to do,” Aromando said. “I just tried to make a play [on her game-tying basket].”
“This was a good night for her to have a coming-out party,” Abbott said.
Hermon was never able to sustain any offensive consistency.
“They knew our plays and were able to defend them well,” said Hermon senior guard Paige Plissey, who paced Hermon with 10 points, four steals, three rebounds and a blocked shot.
“They kept going from zone to man-to-man and we couldn’t identify them. We were like a deer in headlights,” said Hermon senior forward Grace Page, who finished with two points, six rebounds, three assists and two steals.
Both teams had chances to win it in the final 22.4 seconds of regulation, but each turned the ball over. A long 3-pointer by Hermon’s Maddie Lebel at the final buzzer rimmed out.
After hitting her free throw in overtime, Aromando blocked a shot and Franny Ramsdell expanded the lead to 28-26 with a free throw with 1:04 remaining.
Grace Ramsdell scored the only basket of the extra session with a baseline layup and Aromando made a steal that led to two more Ramsdell free throws to clinch it with 18.8 seconds left.
Hermon missed all five of its shots in overtime and went 2-for-19 from the floor in the second half.
The Hawks played exceptional defense, but simply couldn’t generate enough offense against the athletic Warriors.
“We picked the worst night of the year to miss shots we had been making all season long and in the playoffs,” Hermon coach Chris Cameron said. “Hats off to Wells. They played tough defense. You can’t win basketball games if you can’t make shots.”
Wells jumped out to a 13-4 lead in the first quarter but the Hawks rallied with a 10-0 run to take the lead.
Wells built a five-point lead in the second half but Lebel’s 3-pointer, two Plissey free throws and a Meg Tracy basket gave Hermon a 26-24 lead with 5:20 remaining.
Franny Ramsdell had five rebounds to go with her nine points. Aromando wound up with seven points, four rebounds and two steals to accompany her four blocks.
Lebel had five points, seven rebounds and two steals, Tracy contributed four points and seven rebounds and Sydney Gallop chipped in with three points and seven rebounds.