AUGUSTA – What was a non-descript Western Class D girls’ basketball tournament finally gained some panache and personality with Thursday’s second semifinal. Unfortunately for Buckfield, they won’t have an opportunity to be part of the encore.

No. 1 Hyde School scored the first five points of overtime and sank eight consecutive free throws to fight off young, persistent and vastly underrated No. 4 Buckfield, 58-53, at Augusta Civic Center.

Mahalia Gauld scored 14 of her 18 points in the fourth quarter and overtime for Hyde (16-1), which will aim for its second regional title in three years at 1 p.m. Saturday against No. 2 Rangeley. Gauld also hit 3-pointers to put the Phoenix in front on their opening possessions of those two fateful periods.

“I lost it a couple of times early in the game,” said Gauld, a junior point guard, “but I couldn’t let the rest of the team see that. Yesterday at practice, I had to hit 30 free throws before I could leave. That helped me.”

Between the two teams, more than a half dozen players had the chance to be a hero in a fourth quarter that featured an astonishing 13 lead changes and five ties.

Freshman Ashlee Hamann hit the second of two free-throw attempts with 11.1 seconds remaining to force the extra session. Buckfield missed four free throws in the final 92 seconds of regulation, setting the stage for Hyde to complete its own comeback from the charity stripe. Gauld was 6-for-6 from the line in OT.

“That probably looks like the difference, but there are a hundred things that happened during the game where you could say that,” said Buckfield coach Troy Eastman. “Hyde just hit some shots that were the kind where if they made them, they deserved to win.”

Stephanie Urzua scored all 13 of her points in the second half for Hyde. Frances Moreau added 10 and Hillary Lundgren nine for the Phoenix, who trailed by nine with six minutes remaining in the third quarter. Hyde’s low-post tandem of Moreau and Eliza Skakel combined for 22 rebounds and five blocked shots.

Alyssa Henderson led Buckfield (13-5) with 16 points and nine rebounds. Hamann delivered her second double-digit game of the tournament off the bench with 13 points. Lindsay Henderson added 11.

The Bucks forced 34 Hyde turnovers and held the Phoenix to 33 percent shooting in regulation. Buckfield outscored Hyde 10-3 in the second quarter to snag a 20-13 halftime advantage.

“I think the things Buckfield did defensively first got into Frances Moreau’s head. Then they got into Mahalia Gauld’s head. Then they got into Chelsea Malen’s head,” said Hyde coach Tom Bragg. “We had to regroup and control our emotions.”

It didn’t hurt Hyde that streaky perimeter shooters found their range in the third period. Moreau hit a 3-pointer with 5:30 remaining to pull Hyde within six at 24-18. Urzua buried another after Hyde corralled two offensive rebounds to keep a late possession alive.

That made it 28-26 at the end of three, and Gauld’s first long-range salvo of her finishing kick gave the Phoenix their first lead at 29-28 since it was 13-12 early in the second quarter.

Playing much of the period with one junior, three sophomores and a freshman, the Bucks counterpunched with the confidence of champions. Abby Jones scored inside, and Hamann canned a 3-pointer from the right wing, both retrieving the lead. Hamann, Tristen Newton and Alyssa Henderson all knocked down a pair of free throws to either knot the game or put Buckfield in front.

“We hit a lot of big shots,” Eastman said. “We were motivated. We thought (Buckfield-Rangeley) would be a great Western Maine final. It just wasn’t meant to be.”

Lindsay Henderson put back a missed free throw to trim Hyde’s overtime lead to 50-48 with 1:33 to go, and Alyssa Henderson slashed to the hoop to make it 52-50 with 41 seconds left. But Hyde kept winning the inevitable free throw competition, with Gauld sandwiching four straight around two by Moreau.


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