Hornets a real buzzkill

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LEWISTON – It wasn’t always easy on the eyes.

It didn’t do wonders for frazzled fans’ digestion. And come to think of it, Leavitt’s 45-42 KVAC girls’ basketball victory Friday night over Lewiston was less than friendly to the vocal chords.

The Hornets whooped, hollered, hugged and hurried to order pizza as if they had won a playoff game, and why not? Wins haven’t been plentiful in this or any recent year, and this one had a flavor worth savoring.

“I’ve coached these girls for a lot of years at a lot of different levels, and I just told them I can’t remember being more proud of them,” said Leavitt coach Tammy Anderson. “They may not win many games, but they’ll dive on the floor as hard as anybody.”

Leavitt (2-7) trailed by at least five points on three separate occasions before taking command in the final four minutes.

Paige Dyer led the Hornets with 21 points and 11 rebounds. Megan Miller added nine points, a team-high 16 boards and four steals. Miller also drained two free throws with 23 seconds remaining to help Leavitt ice a sweep of the season series with its county neighbor.

“It means a lot for this team,” Miller said. “This is the first time we’ve played this kind of game together, and I’d like to keep going.”

Both teams exhibited the frayed nerves and unforced errors typical of two squads desperately learning how to win.

“We’ve been on sort of a long losing streak,” said Dyer. “A win like this will pick our spirits up.”

Lewiston (0-11) led by eight, 16-8, with 6:36 remaining in the second quarter. Then the Hornets turned up the heat and gutted out a 25-19 advantage at the half. Late in the third, the Blue Devils went on an 11-0 run to reclaim a 32-27 edge, only to see Dyer score five points in the final minute and tie it.

“We thought we could be competitive with them, and we were,” said Lewiston coach Brian Laramee. “We’re a young team, and right now we’ve got that mental block.”

Emily Parent and Ashlee Labonte each sank two free throws to restore a five-point Devils lead, 37-32, with 5:44 to go. Dyer answered with a quick deuce, however, and with each side in the double bonus, Leavitt maximized its opportunities at the foul line.

Miller hit the first of two to knot it 39 with 4:10 left. When she missed the second, Dyer corralled the carom, got hacked and sank both resulting freebies to land Leavitt the lead for good.

With the Blue Devils in an extended cold snap from the floor (2-for-19 in the fourth quarter, 15-of-61 overall), Morgan Bernier (seven points) knocked down two more free throws to give Leavitt a 43-39 cushion with 1:03 remaining.

Kristin D’Eramo got one back at the line for Lewiston, and Danielle Willey’s steal and 3-point bid threatened to send the game to overtime. But her shot rolled around the rim and out, and Willey subsequently fouled out to set up Miller’s heroics.

Willey, a junior guard on a Lewiston roster with no seniors, finished with 11 points and six steals. Parent and Labonte each added eight points.

Leavitt overcame the loss of starters Heidi Swett and Hannah Whitaker to foul trouble for much of the night. Kelsey Baril (five points, four assists) provided a huge lift off the bench.

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