POLAND — When Emily Bolduc and Brittina Maheux went to the bench late in the first half Thursday, you can see what their absence meant to the Poland Knights.
When the two returned to action in the third quarter, you could see what their presence meant.
After falling behind in the second quarter, Bolduc and Maheux helped spark a strong third as the Knights pulled away in a 44-31 win over Old Orchard Beach.
Bolduc was battling foul trouble for much of the first half while Maheux left the game late in the half because of illness. The Sea Gulls took full advantage, using eight straight points to take the lead 19-17 into the half.
“I think we were getting used to playing the second quarter with Emily sitting,” said Maheux, a senior guard. “That brought us together. We all knew we had to step up with our point guard sitting out. When she came back out, we were already on fire. So we just continued from there, and we pushed on.”
Poland (5-5) opened the second half with five straight and a 12-2 run that turned a two-point deficit into a 32-22 lead by the end of the quarter.
“When Emily is in the game and they’re trying to press, if we’d finish half the looks she gets for us on the break, she might have another eight or 10 assists,” said Poland coach Darren Littlefield. “That’s just because of how she leads our offense as the general on the floor.”
It was a dish by Bolduc to Michaella Arsenault to start the half that tied the game. Then she set up Maheux for a three-point play and 22-19 lead.
After OOB (6-4) got an Abby Dubois basket, Poland scored seven straight. Maheux hit a 3. Then Kayla Yirrell finished off a pair of rebounds. The second came off a defensive board by Bolduc.
Maheux finished with eight of her game-high 21 in the third.
“She was just shooting the 15 or 16 footer, and she was knocking them down,” said Littlefield. “That’s a key component for us. Her shooting with composure and confidence is a great addition to our offense.”
Already nursing three fouls, Bolduc picked up her fourth midway in the third quarter. Poland maintained the lead, forcing OOB to shoot from the outside. The Gulls shots 1-for-21 in the third.
“When we got it to that point, we needed to execute and hold,” said Littlefield. “We didn’t want them down below 10 again. We wanted to keep it there. We had to take advantage of the right situation in their pressing and when they weren’t pressing, we wanted them to play defense for 15 or 20 seconds. They’d break down and we’d get a good look.”
OOB could only get a single free throw from Kelsey Custeau. Yirrell padded the lead from the foul line and Maheux hit a late jumper for the 32-22 lead after three.
“I knew being a senior that I had to step up for her because she usually leads our team,” said Maheux. “I didn’t want to let the rest of the team down.”
Maheux added six points in the fourth as Poland maintained the double-digit advantage.
Arsenault, who was also battling an illness, finished with eight while Yirrell added seven. Dubois finished with nine to lead OOB.
Poland built a 10-5 lead in the first quarter and maintained the lead until Bolduc picked up her third foul in the second quarter. Maheux left shortly thereafter. Christina Colman led led OOB’s run with five points to make it 19-15. Amanda Gibson hit a late jumper to get Poland within two.
“It wasn’t a common group that sometimes always plays together,” said Littlefield. “So we struggled with some close outs, and they knocked some shots down.”