Strong start carries McAuley
PORTLAND — You could forgive McAuley freshman Sarah Clement for not feeling quite right during warmups. As she was moving through drills in running shoes, her basketball shoes were making their way to the arena.
"I was so focused on playing, doing what I had to do, not on the most important thing, which is my shoes," Clement said. "(The warmup session) was the slowest 15 minutes of my life."
The shoes arrived just before tipoff. And then McAuley got off to a running start.
The top-seeded Lions opened with an 8-0 run held on for a 47-38 win over No. 6 Scarborough in a Western Class A girls´ basketball semifinal Friday night at the Cumberland County Civic Center.
"We have been starting slow," McAuley Coach Billy Goodman said. "I said the other day in practice that I wish we could get up 12-2 one game, just to shake it up. We started out really good tonight, so I´m happy."
The Lions (20-0) advanced to the regional final at 7 p.m. Saturday at the Civic Center. They will play No. 3 Cheverus (18-2), a 33-31 winner over No. 2 Deering.
Jaclyn Welch led the Lions with 13 points, including 7 of 8 from the line. Olivia Smith added 10 points and eight rebounds. Molly Mack (seven rebounds) and Victoria Lux (six) helped Smith control the boards.
The Red Storm, who fell to McAuley 65-42 on Jan. 18, finished the season at 16-4.
McAuley extended its winning streak to 46 games. The Lions are trying to become the first Class A team to win three straight state titles since Cindy Blodgett led Lawrence to four straight from 1991-94.
"They had a good game plan, took care of the ball and didn´t rush any shots," Goodman said, "We had to take care of the ball and play defense."
The defense was evident from the start.
Scarborough, which was happy to stall, went without a point until Maria Philbrick hit two free throws with four minutes left in the first quarter. The Red Storm didn´t make a field goal until a jumper by Mary Redmond (10 points) at 6:49 of the second.
"It was a rough start in respect to our shots not falling," Scarborough Coach Ron Cote said. "I think if our shots had fallen, it might have been a different game. I´m so proud of these girls, of the effort they gave throughout the whole game."
Scarborough´s effort started to pay off in the third quarter. Coming out of halftime trailing 26-12, the Red Storm opened the third with a 7-2 run to cut the Lions´ lead to 28-19 and force a timeout. Courtney Alofs got free inside for six points in the quarter as the Red Storm outscored the Lions in the third, 11-8, to enter the fourth quarter trailing 34-23.
"We had nothing to lose and we were going to give it our best shot," said Taylor LeBorgne, who finished with nine points for Scarborough.
"They´re beatable but they don´t have any weaknesses. To lose by nine points is pretty respectable. We played our hearts out tonight."
The fourth quarter continued to be a back-and-forth struggle, with Scarborough outscoring McAuley 15-13. But by then the Lions´ fast start was looming larger than ever.
"We just had to work harder, pick ourselves up and keep going," Smith said.
"They´re a quick, scrappy team," Welch said. "They gave it their best. Every team gives us their best. That´s just the adversity we have to overcome."