Poland played its best down the stretch Tuesday to beat Cape Elizabeth 54-47  in a crucial, late-season showdown.

“We basically just played like this was about whether we make the playoffs or not,” senior guard Emily Bolduc said. “The difference between this game and any other game was that everybody stepped up in scoring.”

In a twist in the Western Maine Conference schedule, Poland, York and Cape Elizabeth all play each other this week. All three are battling for the final playoff spots in Western B.

“We all play each other in six days,” said Poland coach Darren Littlefield, whose team lost to York Saturday. “Whoever winds up being 2-0 in that round robin is in good shape and the team that’s 0-2 was going to be in tough shape. We were 0-1 and so was (Cape).”

The Knights (9-6) also had the disadvantage of playing without guard Michaella Arsenault. The junior guard is out of action because of a concussion suffered in an overtime loss at Gray-New Gloucester last week.

Despite her absence, the Patriots played well together and stayed close to the Capers (8-7) for much of the game before surging ahead in the final quarter. Emily Bolduc finished with 20 points and Sarah Bolduc added 10. Sarah Walton, who recently returned from injury, had eight and Lindsay Theriault added seven.

“We talk about it,” said Bolduc of the Knights’ team effort. “We know the only way we’re going to win is if everybody contributes scoring and everybody did that tonight.”

Hannah Sawyer led Cape with 15, while Montana Braxton and Maddie Bowe each had 11. Braxton scored 11 in the first half but was shut out in the second, thanks to outstanding defense from Theriault.

“The skill that she brings is that she’s just a tenacious defender,” Littlefield said. “She held (Freeport’s) Nina Davenport to 10 points here the first game we played them. Every night, she’s guarding the best players on their team.”

Cape led for most of the game, but Poland was never behind by more than four. A Caroline Littlefield 3 to end the third tied the game 37 going into the fourth, and the Knights opened a 44-37 lead to start the final frame with seven consecutive points.

“That kind of changed the momentum,” Bolduc said. “We took the lead. The biggest part of the fourth quarter was our composure, which we don’t usually have. We played really calm and knew we were ahead.”

Bolduc opened the fourth with a 3. Then Walton scored on a drive and finished off a Bolduc pass.

“When they went to a zone, that’s the spot we like to put her in, down low because she can catch and finish,” Littlefield said of Walton.

Cape got a 3 from Bowe and a jumper from Sawyer to get within two. Poland got the lead back to five on a Littlefield jumper and a free throw from Bolduc. Cape got within three after free throws from Mary Perkins and Emma O’Rourke but Walton finished off a Sarah Bolduc pass with 1:30 left to make it 49-44.

Sawyer hit a 3 with 1:10 left, but Poland secured the win with five free throws from Emily Bolduc in the final minute.

The Knights did an excellent job closing the gaps on Cape’s shooters and prohibited them from driving. Few of the Capers were able to get open looks from the outside and Cape Elizabeth shot 3-for-14 in the final quarter.

“I had said that if we forced them to the outside and contained the ball and forced jump shots, we were going to be in good shape,” Littlefield said.

Montana led Cape with seven in the first quarter as Cape built a 13-10 lead. Poland got four each from Sarah Bolduc and Theriault to keep close. Poland was able to take a lead in the second on an Emily Bolduc 3 but Cape finished the half up 27-26 on a jumper from Bowe. Poland missed its first seven shots in the third and were down by three early. A fast break basket by Sarah Bolduc, a rebound hoop from Emily Bolduc and the late 3 from Littlefield helped the Knights rally to tie it after three.

The win bounced Poland up to the 10th and final playoff spot in Western B with Morse and Cape behind them. York is in ninth.

“This is a step in the right direction,” Littlefield said. “It’s a huge confidence builder for some of these kids that stepped in and played well together. It’s a big win for us, but it’s just a step.”

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