AUGUSTA — Saint Dominic Academy coach Jon Berry said before the Western Class C girls' basketball tournament that he wanted his precocious team to get out on the spacious Augusta Civic Center court and "run wild."
Oh, the Saints absolutely did that. For what felt like an eternity, if you were a fan of top-seeded Boothbay, it looked like they might run away with the latest upset to turn this corner of the hoop universe on its ear.
No. 8 St. Dom's led most of the first half and lurked within three points until the closing seconds of the third quarter Tuesday night before the Seahawks scurried off with a 43-37 quarterfinal triumph.
Kelly Pomerleau racked up 15 rebounds, eight steals, six rebounds and five assists for the Saints (11-9).
"They made some shots and we had a couple of droughts," Berry said. "We turned the ball over a little bit too much, especially early in the fourth quarter. But I can't fault my kids for the effort."
Morgan Crocker brought a game-high 17 points off the bench for Boothbay (17-2), which will face No. 4 Waynflete at 4 p.m. Thursday in the semifinals.
"It definitely came off our defense," Crocker said. "We stole the ball a lot, and that kind of got our offense going. At the beginning we didn't really talk too much and weren't communicating well on the court."
Crocker had eight points to resuscitate the Seahawks' stagnant offense in the second quarter, then scored seven during a 19-7 run that connected the end of the third period and the beginning of the fourth.
Abby McLellan added eight points and Sarah Caron seven for Boothbay. Alex Clarke and Allison Carbone-Crocker combined for 11 blocked shots.
"We were able to survive," Boothbay coach Tanner Grover said. "I think that's the key word. The way it's gone throughout the state so far, there's been quite a few upsets."
Boothbay's lead grew from 28-26 with two minutes left in the third to 41-30 at the 5:58 mark of the fourth.
Faith Grady chipped in nine points for St. Dom's. Alexis Dwinell added six.
A sloppy, cold-shooting first half ended with the teams tied at 18.
St. Dom's spirited defense was at least partially responsible for Boothbay's 6-for-32 (19 percent) proficiency from the field, as well as its 15 turnovers. The Saints gave it away 17 times, however, while hitting at 8-for-22.
"We weren't making shots. We weren't finishing. The ball woudn't stay down," Grover said. "Defensively I thought we played pretty well to hold them to 37 points."
On three occasions the Saints' lead grew to five, lastly on Pomerleau's stop-and-pop 3-pointer with 5:33 remaining in the half.
"We felt that if both teams played well that we had every chance in the world to win," Berry said. "It didn't have to just be us playing a perfect game."
Carbone-Crocker scored courtesy of the offensive glass to stop a Seahawks drought, and four points by Morgan Crocker — two free throws and a fast break layup by way of Hannah Morley's steal — provided Boothbay its first lead.
Pomerleau quickly took it back with a steal and a drive, then turned in a highlight-film play that typified St. Dom's gritty play.
She swatted a Boothbay shot, let out a holler, made a sliding save of the ball in the left corner and flipped it over her shoulder to waiting teammate Callie Greco.
The Saints missed the front end of two one-and-ones that could have given them the lead at the break. Instead, a steal by McLellan and one made free throw pulled the Seahawks even.
"We showed a lot of grit," Berry said. "We just lacked execution for a spurt that allowed them to make baskets."