AUGUSTA – Their only playoff experience was disappointment.

In three previous years, all the Mt. Abram girls’ basketball players did at playoff time was lose. Just getting to the Augusta Civic Center seemed like a major task, when preliminary game after preliminary game provided a dead end.

“It was really frustrating,” said senior guard Stephanie Coburn. “We knew we had to work hard. Some of our shots weren’t falling, and they’d do something good. Teams were beating us. We got really down about that. Then (Coach) Doug (Lisherness) told us that we needed to keep working hard and things would fall together.”

The Roadrunners had produced winning seasons and entered the playoffs with quality teams, but loses to Wiscasset, Telstar and Jay ended any hopes of further playoff glory. Playing at Augusta became something the current Roadrunners only heard about from older family members and graduates.

The last game time Mt. Abram reached the quarterfinals was in 2003, and the last win came in 2000.

“If you talk to other teams that get knocked out early, they experience the same thing,” said Lisherness, who is in his 21st year with the Roadrunners. “As we know, you don’t have to do too much wrong to get knocked out. Sometimes, you need just a little bit of luck.”

Everything went right this year. A team with no postseason wins under its belt ran the table and captured its first Western C championship since 1992.

“It was so exciting,” said senior center Brittany York, who was named the tournament’s most outstanding player. “Getting this far was definitely a plus, but we knew that no matter what the outcome was of (Saturday’s) game, we were winners either way. We had beaten the No. 1 and the No. 4 teams to get here. We did a really good job and went a lot further than people expected us to. “

The Roadrunners didn’t just happen to win their third regional title due to a cakewalk through a beneficial tournament bracket.

After breaking the losing trend in the preliminary with a win over Telstar, Mt. Abram beat Monmouth – a team many expected to challenge for the regional crown and one that beat the Roadrunners 42-23 in the regular season. Then Mt. Abram toppled top-seeded Dirigo, ending the Cougars string of 12 consecutive trips to the regional final.

Finally, the Roadrunners beat Winthrop soundly, 62-38, in the title tilt, avenging a disappointing 58-55 loss late in the regular season. Now the Roadrunner take on Dexter, the defending state champs, at the Bangor Auditorium Saturday. It will be the fifth straight state game for the Tigers.

“There’s definitely no ‘I’ on this team,” said Coburn. “If somebody does something wrong, we have three people saying ‘That’s okay. You’ll be fine. Don’t do it again or do it better next time.’ We just have a great team, and we’re a team outside of basketball too.”

Mt. Abram has won eight straight games. The streak began after the tough loss at Winthrop in late January. The Roadrunners were up by as many as nine with five minutes to play and watched the lead slip away.

Lisherness says the pieces began falling into place earlier after beating Madison the second time around, which started the trend of avenging earlier losses. Then the Roadrunners lost a tight game to Dirigo, despite playing very well. The Winthrop loss shook the confidence a little, but Mt. Abram responded. They’ve played with poise, confidence and a sense a fearless ever since.

“It gave us a lot of confidence,” said Coburn of the late-season surge. “We knew if we kept playing like we were that we would definitely get here and that we were going to go to Bangor.”


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