AUGUSTA — Sabrina Daoud said she’s been known for not making her layups.
Dirigo High School’s sophomore guard drove to the basket Wednesday afternoon and hit the biggest layup of her life. She added a free throw for emphasis after a foul.
That three-point play lifted Dirigo to a 46-43 win over top-seeded St. Dom’s in the Western Class C quarterfinals at the Augusta Civic Center.
“When I made it, everyone was (surprised),” Daoud said.
She was in the game in place of starter Emma Lueders who was nursing a hip injury.
“I was exactly the same. Oh my God, I still can’t believe it,” she said.
The basket capped a Dirigo comeback that erased a seven-point deficit in the fourth quarter. Dirigo outscored the Saints 10-2 in the final three-plus minutes, advancing to Thursday’s semifinal against Madison.
“The girls had to dig deep in this one,” Dirigo coach Reggie Weston said. “All we had to do was calm them down. We couldn’t get a 10-point shot. So we needed to get one basket at a time. They understood that.”
The Cougars (12-7) and Saints (15-4) split two games in one week late in the regular season. Both of those games went down the final seconds, so a Dirigo win was disappointing for St. Dom’s, but not a surprise.
“We ended up in a really tough bracket,” St. Dom’s coach Jon Berry said. “They’re not really an eighth seed. We were ready to come in and earn it and we just came up short.”
Daoud’s only points of the game came on the final, three-point. Jessica Conant led the Cougars with 14, while Lauren Henderson and Kelsey Hutchins each had nine.
St. Dom’s got 19 from Kelly Pomerleau, who was held to just two in the fourth quarter. Callie Greco had seven while Chloe Dwinell and Alexis Dwinell each added six.
“They were up on Kelly a lot and consciously trying to wear her down,” Berry said.
Dirigo’s defensive effort paid dividends in the fourth as the Cougars’ pressure frustrated the Saints. St. Dom’s scored three times from the floor early in the fourth, but had just two fields goals the last five minutes. St. Dom’s also missed four out of five free throws.
“We wanted to put defenders on (Pomerleau) all game and tire her out and hope she didn’t have gas left at the end, ” said Weston, who used a number of different defenders on her, including Makenzie Lord and Lindsy Crutchfield.
St. Dom’s had taken the lead with 49 seconds left. Greco fed Chloe Dwinell with a nice pass for an open layup to make it 43-41. That was after a Crutchfield 3 had tied it with 1:11 left.
Dirigo tied the game with 31 seconds left with two Conant free throws. The Saints had the chance to take the lead but a drive and leaner by Pomerleau didn’t fall and Henderson grabbed the rebound with nine seconds left. After a Cougar time out, the Dirigo pushed the ball up against the St. Dom’s press.
“Nine seconds is a long time,” said Weston. “We had to break the press first. Then we were going to find the open girl.”
Dirigo was thinking it might be Conant or Hutchins but when Daoud got the ball just over halfcourt, she had open space to the basket. She didn’t hesitate.
“I didn’t think much about it,” Daoud said. “I would have regretted it if I’d missed that. I wanted this so bad.”
St. Dom’s had opened a 30-20 lead in the third quarter. Pomerleau had five points during that stretch of nine straight. Dirigo answered with six straight on baskets by Henderson, Hutchins and Conant, but the Saints still led 32-27 after three.
Baskets by Grady and Alexis Dwinell had the lead up to 36-29 with 7:08 left in the fourth. After free throws by Lueders and a basket by Pomerleau, it was 38-31 with 5:19 remaining.
“We always dig ourselves a big hole that we always come out of,” Daoud said. “I think we handled it pretty well. It was all about urgency.”
Dirigo got back-to-back baskets by Conant. After a three-point play by Greco, Henderson scored and Conant hit a free throw. Then came Crutchfield’s 3 that tied it with 1:11 left.
“We were trying to be patient,” Berry said. “We wanted to take care of it and have people that are confident in their shot take the shots. Dirigo made some big plays down the stretch.”