AUGUSTA — The Carrabec girls’ basketball team did a pretty good job on Maranacook’s Christine Miller for much of the second half Thursday.
Foul trouble finished the job when the Black Bears’ top scorer fouled out of the game. Maranacook was already struggling to rally and without Miller, it seemed even more unlikely.
The Black Bears got as close as four points in the final minutes but came up short in a Western C semifinal against the Cobras. Carrabec advanced to the regional final with a 58-52 win.
“I think we played a great game,” Maranacook coach Jeannine Paradis said. “My kids are starting to do a lot of the little things that I’ve been wanting them to do. I felt they left it on the floor. Most teams, when their leading scorer fouls out, give up. My kids didn’t.”
Carrabec advances to Saturday Western C final to face Madison. While the Bulldogs are frequent faces in the regional final, this is the first visit for the Cobras since Carrabec lost to Dirigo in 1997.
“It’s amazing,” Carrabec sophomore guard Hannah Atwood said. “I would have never imagine us getting here.”
Miller scored 15 points in the first half for the Black Bears but was held to just three points in the second half.
“During practice, we talked about how we were going to shut her down, and we did it,” Atwood said.
The Cobras swarmed Maranacook’s junior center and forced the other Black Bears to beat them. When Miller fouled out late in the fourth, Maranacook had no choice. The Black Bears got baskets by Sara Beckwith and Catherine Sanborn to trim the deficit and got within 56-52. Marancook even had shots that could have got them closer that missed, even after a Mercedis Welch rebound had put Carrabec back up by 58-52 with 1:48.
“We had some great looks,” Paradis said. “We had a couple steals. They had a couple of turnovers. We just couldn’t convert. It says a lot for the caliber of kids that we have. I called time out to remind them that they could play with anybody no matter who’s on the floor. Once they settled themselves down, they believed it.”
Carrabec proved too much. When the Black Bears shot 1-for-5 to start the quarter and finished the fourth shooting just 3-for-12, the Cobars had the opportunity to build the lead. Holding a 46-45 lead to start the fourth, Carrabec got six points from Welch in the fourth while Bailey Atwood hit a 3 and Emma Pluntke scored in the post as the Cobras scored seven straight early in the fourth and had a 56-48 lead after a Welch rebound and a Hannah Atwood free throw.
Hannah Atwood finished with 17 points while Welch added 12. Bailey Atwood and Jessica Vaillancourt eached added eight. After Miller’s 18, the Black Bears got 16 from Catherine Sanborn and 12 from Sarah Clough.
“I’m incredibly proud of these kids,” Paradis said. “These kids have made it to the tournament, in this venue, in eight-plus years.”
It was a back-and-forth game from the start and both teams enjoyed the fast pace. When Carrabec began hitting its shots from the outside, Marancacook couldn’t hold its lead.
“We focus more on pushing the ball and slowing it down if we’re not scoring,” Hannah Atwood said. “We love to push it.”
Miller had 11 in the first quarter and the Black Bears had the lead up to 12-8 but a rebound by Pluntke and a 3 from Hannah Atwood tied the game at 16-16 after one.
In the second Carrabec built the lead and were up by as many as five at 23-19 after a 3 and two-pointer by Hannah Atwood a rebound by Pluntke. Maranacook took the lead back on a Miller leaner and a jumper and free throws by Clough. The Cobras tied the game on free throws by Jerzee Rugh and Hannah Atwood. Then Bailey Atwood drilled a 3 for a 33-30 lead at the half.
Sanborn had eight of her points in the third as the Black Bears took the lead but it was a one or two-point ballgame the entire quarter. Seven straight points by the Cobars on a 3 from Vaillancourt and baskets by Hannah Atwood and Bailey Atwood had the Cobra lead at 46-45 entering the fourth.