Boothbay’s Isabel Harkins tries to block shot by Monmouth Academy’s Hannah Anderson during the Class C South championship Saturday at the Augusta Civic Civic. (Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal)
AUGUSTA — The first regional title is always special. But beating rival Boothbay for the second made Monmouth’s second Class C South championship in a row a little extra special.
Though nothing about the game and the stakes were average, the Mustangs’ 51-47 win followed the averages of the numerous other clashes the two Mountain Valley Conference powers.
Not counting this year’s MVC championship, an exhibition game, the teams had split their previous six meetings over the last three seasons. The average margin of victory in those games was 4.1 points (that information courtesy Hall-Dale girls’ coach Jarod Richmond), with the Mustangs’ nine-point win in last year’s regional semifinal being the closest thing to a blowout.
Boothbay evened it up with a 50-47 home win three games into this season. Monmouth played that game without senior forward Hannah Anderson, who was sidelined with an ankle injury.
“Down there, we didn’t have Hannah Anderson, which changes things a lot because she’s the one that guards Faith Blethen all of the time,” Monmouth coach Scott Wing said.
Some players wouldn’t mind a day off against Blethen, the Mountain Valley Conference co-player of the year bound for George Washington University. But Anderson, who scored six points in addition to guarding a very skilled player who is 6 inches taller than her, had wanted one last shot at Blethen for a long time.
“It was really frustrating (missing that game), especially since it’s my senior year,” Anderson said. “(Playing Boothbay) is fun, because they’re really good. When we match up, it’s always an intense game.”
“You know it’s going to be a close game whenever it’s the two of us,” Anderson added. “We know what to expect (from them), and they know what to expect from us.”
Tournaments are often about the unexpected, so having a familiar foe in perhaps the most nerve-wracking of tournament games can actually be somewhat comforting.
“We’re pretty evenly matched,” said senior forward Abbey Allen, the tournament’s most valuable player. “They have really good players and so do we, so it’s a really good matchup. We’ve known the players for a while, we’ve always played against them and it’s fun to go back out there and play them.”
Monmouth, the defending state champion, will be back battling for a gold ball next Saturday. But first, the Mustangs will probably savor this Saturday because this regional championship is a little extra special.
“I think it is,” Wing said, “because last year’s championship game (against Old Orchard Beach) was a bit anitclimatic because we had beaten Boothbay in the semifinal, and that was obviously the team that we knew we had to beat.”
Some things never change.