Monday, March 10, 2014
BANGOR — Nokomis needed to limit Presque Isle's penetration and kick-outs for 3-pointers. On the game's first possession, Chandler Guerrette drove the right baseline and passed to Karlee Bernier, who hit a wide-open 3 from the left corner.
On Presque Isle's second possession, Guerrette drove again and made a layup.
The top-seeded Wildcats continued to execute that kind of offense throughout the game, and scored a 66-51 victory over No. 3 Nokomis in the Eastern B girls basketball final Saturday afternoon at the Bangor Auditorium.
"Defensively, we sometimes were on our heels," Nokomis coach Michelle Paradis said. "We weren't on out toes all the time. When we get on our heels, obviously they can dribble-penetrate and go by us, and they knocked down shots."
Presque Isle made eight 3-pointers in 18 attempts. The Wildcats were also 12 of 12 from the free-throw line and committed only five turnovers in the first three quarters.
"We got a lot of fast-break 3s, too, which is what we do with the diagonal pass," Presque Isle coach Jeff Hudson said. "When we move the ball with extra passes, as we did the second quarter, it looked pretty good."
Megan Ireland hit four of those 3-pointers and scored a game-high 18 points. Guerrette added 16, Hannah Graham scored 11, and Bernier hit three 3-pointers to end up with nine. Anna MacKenzie (14 points, eight rebounds) and Kelsie Richards (13 points) were the top scorers for the Warriors.
Presque Isle jumped to an early 14-7 lead, but Nokomis had that down to 16-15 by the end of the first quarter. Presque Isle center Meredith Stewart had sat the last 4 minutes and 27 seconds of the first quarter after picking up her second foul.
As it became clear that Hudson was not going to put Stewart back in the game unless things got critical for his team, Nokomis became intent on exploiting its size advantage inside. The Warriors became so intent on this that they careened out of their offensive flow. Nokomis took only five shots in the second quarter — none by MacKenzie, who scored nine points in the first quarter — and committed 10 turnovers.
"We forced a lot, and I don't know if that was just nerves, or we were anxious, or what it was," Paradis said. "But we forced the ball to a lot of people who weren't open. We had several turnovers that were unforced turnovers."
Presque Isle led only 21-20 with 5:12 left in the half, then outscored the Warriors 14-1 the rest of the second quarter. It was 35-21 at halftime, and while Nokomis had 15 turnovers, Presque Isle had two. With Stewart on the bench, the Wildcats used the 5-foot-8 Bernier on Nokomis 6-footer Traci Carson, and also went to their bench for some quality minutes from 5-11 freshman Regan Nelson.
"Our subs did a good job the second quarter," Hudson said. "We're not just five players. We have 11 players that can play."
Fourteen points was as close as Nokomis would get in the third quarter, and Presque Isle's lead bulged to 50-29. At that point, the Warriors started to pull off an incredible comeback, scoring the next 11 points to close within 50-40 on a baseline jumper by Lindsay Whitney with 5:22 left in the game.
Even more quickly, and with more authority, the Wildcats quashed the rally. Ireland drained a 3 from the right side, then hit a fast-break layup. Bernier followed with a 3, and Presque Isle was back in control at 58-40 with 4:11 remaining.
"We're a team of runs," Paradis said, "and we have to be more consistent and not be a team of runs, and just be a consistent, scoring team. We're still a little young."
Carson, Taylor Lovely, Emily Paige and Ashley Young graduate from this winter's Nokomis team. The Warriors will again be one of the Eastern B favorites next season.
"I would never, ever trade places with anybody," Paradis said. "I love this team. I love them right to death. There's always going to be an unhappy person, except for that one team that does win it all. It's going to build character. It makes you a better person on the floor and off the floor. It's just a learning and a building experience."
Matt DiFilippo — 861-9243
Mikayla Charters (44) of Nokomis looks to pass the ball after diving for possession against Presque Isle during the Eastern Class B championship game Saturday at the Bangor Auditorium. Presque Isle won, 66-51.
Staff photo by Michael G. Seamans