LIVERMORE FALLS – Most of this season’s chatter about the Hall-Dale High School girls’ basketball team concerned whom the Bulldogs didn’t have in uniform any longer.

Somehow, the three seniors, junior and sophomore still hanging around have earned the right to defend their Western Class C championship. No. 9 Hall-Dale hit the road Tuesday evening and bounced No. 8 Livermore Falls, 47-41, in a tense preliminary-round clash of Mountain Valley Conference rivals.

Katie Frett, one of three starters picking up the pieces after the graduation of 1,000-point scorers Caitlyn Laflin and Chelsey Dionne, scored all 10 of her points in the final three minutes to trigger the final momentum swing of a ragged but entertaining night.

“People don’t really expect much out of us, and you can see our game is kind of shaky at times,” Frett said. “We have a new team, and it’s going to interesting and fun to see how far we can go with it.”

Hall-Dale (10-9) will face top-seeded Dirigo (17-1) in the last of four Western C quarterfinal games Tuesday at 8:30 p.m. at Augusta Civic Center. The Bulldogs made girls’ hoop history by halting the Cougars’ 11-year regional championship reign with a victory in the Western final last February.

It’s a much different group, but Hall-Dale has won seven straight games and eight of its last nine.

“We put in a brand new offense, a brand new defensive scheme, and it’s 100 percent them,” said Hall-Dale coach Sam Hayes. “I stand on the sidelines and scream and holler and act like a fool sometimes, but they’re the ones who have turned it around.”

Junior Britta Olsen led Hall-Dale with 16 points and 17 rebounds. Senior Katy Brown added 12 points.

Brown scored the inside bucket that put Hall-Dale in front for good, quickly answering Kendra Lyman’s lay-up to make it 36-35 with 2:21 remaining. Frett drove for two on Hall-Dale’s next possession, added a steal and coast-to-coast drive with 1:22 to go and swished four straight free throws down the stretch.

For Livermore Falls, Lyman’s basket was the last until Rachel Ventrella’s 50-foot frustration heave banked off the window and through the hoop to beat the buzzer. Marjorie DeBrosky led the Andies (10-9) with 20 points and 10 rebounds. Ventrella chipped in 10 points, seven boards and four steals.

“The better team won,” said Livermore Falls coach Frank Donald. “We were confident, not cocky. They did a heck of a job. It’s one of those things where you tip your hat and move on.”

Livermore Falls had ample opportunity to run and hide when Hall-Dale committed 15 turnovers and missed all nine of its free throw attempts in the first half. The Andies struggled just as mightily, though, shooting 27 percent from the field and only 1-of-6 from the line before the break.

DeBrosky delivered 11 of the Andies’ 13 points in the first half, and the two teams went into the locker room deadlocked.

“We had a bunch of seniors who were thinking ‘win or go home,’ and they probably had a lot of young kids with that deer-in-the-headlights look at the start of the game,” Donald said.

Olsen and sophomore Amy Skillings combined for 10 points and Brown nailed a 3-pointer in the third quarter to help Hall-Dale overcame a pair of four-point deficits and hammer out a 27-26 lead.

Livermore Falls reclaimed the advantage twice in the fourth period, but seven turnovers and seven Hall-Dale offensive rebounds in the closing stages exacted a season-ending toll.

“I think they were tired at the end of the game,” Hayes said. “They don’t go as deep on the bench as maybe we do.”

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