AUGUSTA – Nineteen consecutive tournament appearances by the Mt. Abram High School girls’ basketball program imply that its players should know every nook and cranny of Augusta Civic Center. Not quite.

“I had to call Al Veneziano at Madison this week to ask him if the committee would provide our practice balls or if we had to bring our own,” said Mt. Abram coach Doug Lisherness. “It had been so long I couldn’t remember.”

Everything old is new again for the No. 5 Roadrunners, who overcame an early four-point deficit and controlled the remainder of its 49-44 Western Class C quarterfinal victory Tuesday night over the No. 4 Monmouth Academy Mustangs.

Beaten in the preliminary round three years in a row, senior tri-captains led the way as Mt. Abram (14-6) took the floor here for the first time since 2003 and ended a seven-year drought between quarterfinal triumphs.

Logahn Walker ran the offense with 15 points and five assists. Brittany York added 10 points and combined with Stephanie Coburn for 22 rebounds to lead the Roadrunners to their sixth win a row. Two of those came at Monmouth’s expense.

“Even though we won last time we played them (Jan. 29), our offense struggled,” Walker said. “We knew we had to take it to them, because having lost to us last time they were going to want revenge.”

Mt. Abram will meet top-seeded Dirigo, regional champion 11 of the last 12 years, at 4 p.m. in Thursday’s semifinals.

Jen Lola finished with 17 points, 11 rebounds and three steals for Monmouth (16-4). Cortney Barrett added 13 points and 15 boards, but Sam Fairchild was the only other player to score for the Mustangs in the first three quarters.

Monmouth shot 28 percent from the floor and struggled to find an offensive rhythm until cutting the lead from double digits to three points in desperation mode at the end.

“My shots weren’t falling. A lot of people’s shots weren’t falling,” said Barrett, “and it just sucks because you know it’s a big game and you hope and you pray that those shots will go in.”

Lola’s outburst of two free throws, two 3-pointers and a jumper from the top of the key gave Monmouth a 10-6 lead with 3:07 remaining in the first quarter.

The Roadrunners stormed back with seven unanswered points in the final 56 seconds, ignited by a 3-pointer and a drive for two by Walker. York corralled a long rebound and raced end-to-end to beat the buzzer for a 13-10 advantage.

Monmouth stayed within a pair at 20-18 until late in the second but lost Lola temporarily with her third foul in the process. And while the Roadrunners pitched a shutout for the final 2:29, Morgan Cummings, York and Kenni Norton combined for five straight points to make it a 25-18 halftime cushion. Norton chipped in 11 points for Mt. Abram.

York and Walker delivered the first two buckets of the second half, and Monmouth could do no better than trade baskets for the balance of the third period. Four times the Mustangs clawed within nine, but another drought of more than three minutes pushed the deficit back to double digits.

Norton nailed a free throw before Walker made a steal and finished her own fast break. Although Barrett answered with a short jumper in the paint, it was still 38-28 with eight minutes to go.

“Our coaches make good adjustments, and our girls are skilled enough that we can adjust even without our coaches calling time out,” Barrett said. “We did a good job at that tonight, too. We got that early lead and something just happened, I don’t know.”

Monmouth crept within five on Barrett’s traditional 3-point play with 4:54 left and nudged within three on a Brittany Scirica 3-pointer, three Jill Armstrong free throws and a Lola free throw in the final minute.

Walker’s two freebies with 6.4 ticks remaining iced the issue.

“We’re back and we’re here to stay,” said Walker. “If we’re playing Dirigo, we must have done something right.”


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