Cougars avoid upset
FARMINGTON -- It was a wild day of upsets in Eastern A girls basketball. There would have been one more, but Mt. Blue´s depth and defense made the difference.
Mt. Blue´s reserves stepped in with two starters in foul trouble during regulation and the Cougars held Brewer to six points in the final 12 minutes to take a 48-42 overtime victory on Monday afternoon.
Before the Cougars and Witches finished their game, other finals started coming in: Cony beating Edward Little, Oxford Hills edging Mt. Ararat and winless Hampden defeating Skowhegan -- the same team that upset Mt. Blue in double overtime on Friday night.
"I think our defense got tougher down the stretch and we started not giving them easy looks," Mt. Blue coach Tom Philbrick said. "We started limiting them to one shot and we just took care of the ball a little better at the end of the game."
"We kept our composure," said Mt. Blue junior guard Miranda Nicely, who scored 13 points. "We remembered what happened with Skowhegan -- ´This is not happening again. We´re going to take this one.´ I just think that really helped us."
The largest lead for either side in the game was six points. Brewer (6-7) had a chance to build a sizable lead in the first half, as Mt. Blue starters Gabby Foy (10 points) and Jaycee Jenckes sat out for long stretches with foul trouble. But with Jenckes and Foy on the bench, Addie Brinkman, Caitlin Kane, Kayla Newbill and Alyssa Williams all contributed in reserve roles, keeping Mt. Blue within 26-23 at halftime.
"In practice, when we go against each other, you can hardly tell who´s starters and who isn´t, because we´re all just so competitive," Nicely said. "We push each other and that shows in the games, too."
Jenckes and Foy combined for six straight points at the beginning of the third quarter to give Mt. Blue a 29-26 lead, but Brewer´s Alexa Grindle (13 points) started heating up from long range, and the Witches ripped off eight straight points to go ahead 34-29.
Mt. Blue (9-4) led 38-36 at the end of the third quarter, but both teams slowed down their fast-paced offenses at that point. Leading 40-38, the Cougars went into a stall with nearly three minutes still to play. With 44 seconds left, a Brewer player reached in and tried to foul Nicely, but Nicely was called for traveling as the fans hooted at the call.
"Some calls you´re going to get, some you´re not," Nicely said. "So you´re just like, ´OK, we don´t have the ball. Defense. Don´t let them score.´ "
At the other end, Lindsay Houp drove from the top of the key and banked in a shot with 15 seconds left to tie the game at 40. Mt. Blue´s Amy Hilton missed a long shot at the buzzer to force overtime.
Brewer´s only points in the extra period were on a basket by Morgan Small (nine points, 12 rebounds). Mackenzie Conlogue (eight points, eight rebounds) gave Mt. Blue the lead for good when she scored inside to make it 44-42 with 1:49 left, and Nicely and Hilton each made a pair of foul shots in the final 30 seconds.
"It´s nerve-wracking, but it´s really fun," Nicely said. "Those are the really exciting, intense games -- they´re just great to pull out the win."
Matt DiFilippo -- 861-9243