DIXFIELD — The St. Dom’s girls’ basketball team maintained its composure to capitalize on several opportunities in a Class C preliminary playoff game Tuesday night.
The ball-handling skills of Mary Caron were quite evident as the guard directed the show and scored a game-high 15 points as the No. 9 Saints recorded a 36-31 upset win against No. 8 Dirigo at Defoe Gymnasium.
St. Dom’s (8-11) entered the game on a mission after having lost to Dirigo by 22 points, two weeks earlier. The Saints’ reward will be playing top-ranked Hall-Dale next Tuesday night in a quarterfinal game at the Augusta Civic Center.
“This is a big accomplishment,” said St Dom’s coach Jon Berry said. “No one would have counted on St. Dom’s even making the playoffs in the beginning of season. The (program) has been to Augusta for the past few years, but this is a new group of kids.”
The score was tied or changed sides five times during the first four minutes in the fourth quarter, but the game became difficult for the Cougars down the stretch. Dirigo held its own on three-point basket by Paige Murphy and Alyssa Wade’s (10 points) coast-to-coast layup. The Saints responded with Caron scoring and also feeding Olivia Cluff for a bunny. A 3-pointer by Wade off the glass pulled Dirigo to within 29-28, but a series of turnover was its undoing.
“Those really hurt us,” said Dirigo coach Reggie Weston, regarding the teams 31 turnovers. “We had talked in practice about being able to (execute). St. Dom’s played a zone, so we just couldn’t dribble down and try forcing a pass inside. I had told the girls to pull up and fake in order to get their players moving.”
The Saints put the ball in Caron’s hands and slowed the pace into a half-court game. The Cougars tried pressing and were forced to foul. Caron made seven of 10 free throws, including five in a row.
St. Dom’s committed 15 turnovers, five in the fourth quarter. A height advantage inside, Allison Conley (eight points, nine rebounds) and McKenzie Roy (eight rebounds), led to several easy baskets.
“We put the ball in Mary’s hands,” Berry said. “She was smart and found open teammates and also knew when to go. She controlled the ball and played smart.”
The Saints used Conley inside for high percentage shots to lead 14-11 at halftime. A basket by Roy extended the cushion to 20-14, but Dirigo went on a 7-2 run. Kayla Gaudin made two free throws and a basket. A Miranda Shurtleff trey pulled Dirigo to trail 22-21 at the end of three quarters. ”
Dirigo tried several different combinations in an attempt to get something going. A basket by Gretchen Bradbury and Ambyr Wilson trey and Lexi Noyes free throw kept the score close in the second quarter.
“We hadn’t shot the ball well,” said Berry said. “So, we tried getting the ball inside to Conley. Plus, we new Dirigo was capable of going on a run.”
The Cougars shot 35 percent and made three of nine free throws in the game.