Western C Girls’ Quarterfinal: Miller, Black Bears eliminate Huskies

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That was fine by Maranacook, which had the biggest weapon on the Augusta Civic Center court, junior center Christine Miller.

Miller dominated Kents Hill’s 2-3 zone for 25 points and led an all-out assault on the offensive boards by the Black Bears with eight rebounds in a 52-39 win.

The Black Bears (14-5), in their first season in Class C, advanced to Thursday’s semifinal against No. 3 Carrabec. Kents Hill ends its season at 12-5.

Maranacook trailed only once, 9-8 early in the second quarter. It then immediately took control with a 16-4 run to end the half, and never led by less than 10 in the second half.

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“We started off kind of slow,” Miller said. “We couldn’t really shoot that well, but our defensive intensity was pretty good. We were going after the ball. And then we got a little bit of a lead and we just kept building.”

“I think the difference was there in the second quarter,” Huskies coach Luke Wamboldt said. “We were breaking their press really well early in the game, passing the ball. They were able to speed us up a little. We got a little anxious.”

With 1:26 remaining in the half, Miller drove to the hoop, scored and drew a foul. When she converted the free throw, it sent the Bears’ lead into double digits for good.

A minute later, she dove on the floor and tipped a loose ball to Sarah Clough (13 points, five rebounds, five steals), who knocked down the Bears’ only 3-pointer to make it 24-13.

“(Miller) will carry us on her shoulders and never complain about it one bit,” said Maranacook coach Jeannine Paradis, who picked up her 100th career win and first quarterfinal win. “She was great on the foul line. Her 3-point shot wasn’t falling today, but she has a lot of other attributes to her game, so she continued to penetrate.”

Miller’s penetration against the zone opened the door for the Bears to collect offensive rebounds and set up second-chance points. Miller, Clough and Catherine Sanborn (10 points, nine rebounds) helped them grab 18 offensive rebounds.

“We did a really good job of hustling after every ball. I know we’ve had a little bit of trouble with that this season,” said Miller, whose team forced 30 Kents Hill turnovers. “It helped that they were in a zone. We could get the boards easier.”

“That’s been one of those things that we’ve tried to focus on all season long, collecting the ball with two hands so if they run through us, we have possession and they foul. And we did that today,” Paradis said.

Maranacook was 19-for-26 from the free throw line, Kents Hill 8-for-14.

The Huskies trailed by as much as 18 in the third quarter. They went on a 10-2 run to close the deficit to 10 early in the fourth quarter, but Miller answered with six in a row to put the game away.

Sara Grenier led Kents Hill with 13 points, while Emma Curnin added 11 points and 12 rebounds.The Huskies went just six deep before clearing the bench once the outcome was decided.

“I’m so proud of our girls, playing with six girls tonight with the number of injuries we’ve had,” said Wamboldt, whose team lost a pair of starting guards, Allie Helfrich and Karrisha Gillespie, plus key reserves, to injuries this season. “We had a number of girls on our team getting minutes who hadn’t played basketball.”

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