Monmouth Academy tops Dexter to capture first state crown

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BANGOR, Maine — 03/04/2017 — Monmouth’s Tia Day swings the net around her head after defeating Dexter during their Class C girls basketball state championship at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor Saturday.

BANGOR — Monmouth Academy cut to the quick for its first basketball state title Saturday night.

The Mustangs’ superior quickness was evident at both ends of the floor and was more than enough to off-set 6-foot Dexter center Megan Peach’s presence in the paint in a 46-37 victory at Cross Insurance Center.

“It feels amazing,” junior guard Tia Day said. “I’m speechless.”

“That was definitely a key, out-quirking them, because we definitely weren’t out-sizing them,” Monmouth coach Scott Wing said.

Peach led all scorers with 20 points, along with nine rebounds and four blocks. But the Mustangs had more balance, led by Abbey Allen’s 16 points and Tia Day’s 13 and some important contributions from the bench.

Monmouth’s quickness advantage first became apparent on the offensive glass of all things, despite Peach’s presence. The Mustangs had plenty of second opportunities because they weren’t hitting their initial shots for the first four-plus minutes of the game.

Allen finally got them into the scoring column 4:06 into the contest, and accounted for their only other points with a putback a minute before the end of a 5-4 first quarter in favor of the Tigers.

“I think that’s when we first started settling in, when Abbey hit that first jump shot,” Day said. “We started playing some good defense and then coming back down the court and making shots we know we can make.”

Dexter went inside to Peach for back-to-back hoops to start the second quarter. Day, who had tested her range a couple of times in the first quarter, hit her first deep 3-pointer of the game with 5:50 left in the half.

“Early in the game, I think the kids were a little bit nervous, a little bit tentative,” Wing said. “We went with as much defensive pressure on the ball as we needed to

That sparked a 10-2 Mustangs run that saw Monmouth tie it 11-11 with an Allen jumper, followed by freshman reserve guard Audrey Fletcher forcing a 10-second call with relentless defensive pressure in the back court.

“All year we’ve been working on defense and not lunging at the player and just keeping your hands moving,” Fletcher said. “Our coaches definitely got us to the next level on defense.”

“Audrey Fletcher just drove that girl crazy,” Wing said. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen a 10-second count on a one-on-one situation at half court like that. That girl didn’t know where to go because she just kept jumping her hand. That was amazing. That was what kind of changed the game right there.”

The Mustangs immediately took their first lead on Day’s second deep 3 and maintained that three-point advantage, 16-13, into halftime.

Two hoops from Peach to start the second half gave the Tigers their last at 17-16. Day sandwiched a pair of 3s around another Peach hoop, the second trey putting Monmouth in front for good at 22-19 with 3:20 left in the third.

A three-point play by Allen late in the third and a 3-point shot by reserve guard Julia Johnson extended Monmouth’s lead to 35-27 early in the fourth.

Monmouth then pulled the ball out and used its quickness and ball-handling to play keep away for over two minutes.

Johnson’s 3-pointer would prove to be the Mustangs’ only field goal in the final 6:39, but they wouldn’t need any more. Peach scored Dexter’s first field goal of the quarter with 2:53 to go to make it 35-29, but Hannah Anderson (six points) drained two at the free throw line, where the final nine points of Monmouth’s historic season followed.

The impact of the school’s first gold ball wasn’t lost on Wing.

“It’s awesome,” Wing said. “Being a kid who grew up in Monmouth, went to Monmouth Academy, worked there all but one year after I got out of high school… I’m 46 years old and I’ve been in the Monmouth schools for 40 years, so it means a lot.”

BANGOR —

BANGOR, Maine — 03/04/2017 — Monmouth players kiss the golden ball after defeating Dexter during their Class C girls basketball state championship at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor Saturday.

BANGOR, Maine — 03/04/2017 — Monmouth’s Libby A. Clement (left) embraces Monmouth’s Destiny Clough after defeating Dexter during their Class C girls basketball state championship at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor Saturday.BANGOR, Maine — 03/04/2017 — Monmouth’s Abbey Allen (left) goes up for two past Dexter’s Rebecca Batron during their Class C girls basketball state championship at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor Saturday. BANGOR, Maine — 03/04/2017 — Dexter’s Megan Peach (left) blocks a shot from Monmouth’s Emily Grandahl during their Class C girls basketball state championship at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor Saturday. BANGOR, Maine — 03/04/2017 — Monmouth’s Hannah Anderson (left) and Dexter’s Ashley Reynolds battle for a loose ball during their Class C girls basketball state championship at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor Saturday.BANGOR, Maine — 03/04/2017 — Monmouth celebrates after defeating Dexter during their Class C girls basketball state championship at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor Saturday.

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