SANFORD — Come tournament time, we´re often told defense wins championships. Six games into the regular season, we find it can give coaches a chance to tinker with a lineup and still escape with a win.
The Marshwood girls´ basketball team proved that Tuesday night during their 46-38 victory over Sanford in a Western Class A game at Sanford Memorial Gym.
After riding its tenacious full-court press to a 22-19 halftime lead, the Hawks (4-2) eased up at the start of the third. The Redskins (3-2) took advantage, outscoring the Hawks 13-2 in the period to take a 32-24 lead.
"We switched up a little bit, went with a bigger lineup to try something different," said Marshwood Coach Lee Petrie.
The move was out of necessity, as a number of players were nursing illness or injury.
Most notably, starting guard Kayla Rackley left the game because of a gall bladder infection, and sixth-man Tatum Schladenhauffen missed much of the second half with a sore thumb.
"The kids did a great job defensively (in the third). On the offensive end, we had an unconventional lineup that had kids playing different roles. They´ll tell you they missed (easy shots), things like that, but it was fine," Petrie said.
Indeed it was.
The Hawks reapplied the press in the fourth quarter and blew past the Redskins 22-6 in the quarter. Sanford didn´t score until Taylor Littlefield (11 points) drove to the basket with 2:33 to play to cut it to 42-34.
Seniors Aubrey Folger and Jorden Mitchell led the way for Marshwood. Folger scored eight of her game-high 16 points in the fourth, and Mitchell added seven of her nine points.
"When I step it up, I know I can lead the team," Folger said. "It was my time to do that."
It was exactly what the Redskins didn´t need. Sanford is feeling the loss of 6-foot-1 forward Heather LeBlanc, who is out for at least four weeks with a stress fracture in her back. LeBlanc was averaging seven points per game and provided an experienced player on the post.
"With Heather out, we really need to find somebody to score points," said Sanford Coach Kristy Parent. "We held them to 24 points at the half, then let them score 22 in the fourth. When you´re not scoring, you can´t give up that many points in the fourth quarter. We had a nice little run at the end of the third, but they got it back pretty quickly in the fourth."
Parent said the Redskins handled the Hawks´ defense pretty well in the first half. But the Hawks´ depth, and the return of the unrelenting press in the fourth, led by Folger, Alli Schoff, Nicole Lachance and Jill Gori, put Sanford on its heels.
Their play has put Marshwood in the upper echelon of the SMAA. After cruising past Portland in their season opener (55-27) the Hawks topped Deering (70-60) before falling to Scarborough (54-48) and McAuley (58-34).
They then gave Windham the slip in overtime (64-58) on Dec. 22, powered by Mitchell´s five points and Hannah Ferguson´s 3-pointer.
All this with a sundry of injuries and at times a mix-and-match lineup.
"Someone goes down, someone else steps up," Petrie said. "That´s how we play the game. We feel with our defense we ought to be able to control the tempo of the game. We did that in the fourth, and our seniors stepped up and led the way."