AUGUSTA — What started out as a defensive struggle was quickly interrupted by an offensive outburst Saturday night.

In a tight ballgame in the Western C championship game, Maranacook’s Sarah Clough’s long-range prowess turned the tide in a hurry.

“After like two shots, I felt really comfortable,” said the senior guard, who admits she was a little jittery at first. “I wasn’t nervous at all. It didn’t feel like it was a championship game. It just felt like a regular game.”

Her four 3s in the second quarter broke open the game for the Black Bears. It was a lead that Dirigo couldn’t overcome. Maranacook fended off any Cougar rally for a 47-37 victory at the Augusta Civic Center.

The win was the first regional championship for Maranacook. Dirigo was playing in its first regional title game since 2006.

“I felt the biggest thing was those four threes in the second quarter,” said Dirigo coach Karen Magnusson.”That’s when the gap opened up. We were struggling with foul trouble. With that big gap, I think it was hard to get going again.”

Dirigo fell behind by as many as 12 in the second quarter but tried to rally in the second half. The Cougars got within six in the third and 38-32 in the fourth. Kind of like Dirigo’s win over Madison Friday, in which the Bulldogs couldn’t overcome the early deficit, it was the Black Bears denying the Cougars comeback.

“We didn’t give up,” Magnusson said. “We kept trying to make some good runs. I think we got it down to (six). They came back and got some more. We got it down again. We made some great runs, but they countered us today.”

Clough finished with 12 points before fouling out for the Black Bears (18-3). Christine Miller added 10 and was named Western C’s top performer. Kristen Hall added eight, all in the second half while Catherine Sanborn had a strong game and chipped in seven.

“We have kids that really want to step up,” said Maranacook coach Jeannine Paradis, whose team had its depth challenged when Sarah Clough was in foul trouble and Lauren Clough was hurt moments after she came into the game. Hall, Jana Elwell and Justice Merrill gave the Black Bears some key minutes.

Lauren Henderson led Dirigo (18-3) with 12 points while Jessica Conant had eight. Kelsey Hutchins and Emma Lueders each added five.

“This is absolutely a special group,” said Magnusson, who loses four seniors. “They never stopped playing. It was fun coaching them because they loved the game of basketball and loved doing it together. We never stopped the entire time and that’s what I’m most impressed with.”

After a back-and-forth first quarter in which the lead changed seven times, Dirigo was up 9-8. Clough opened the second quarter with a 3. Free throws by Henderson and Olivia Noyes tied it. Then Clough hit another 3.

“I took a lot of shots before the game today at school,” Clough said. “So I just felt pretty confident. So I just shot and they were falling. Some days they fall for me and some days they don’t.”

Two free throws by Rachel Knight cut it to 14-13, but the Black Bears finished the half with 11 straight points. Miller produced a three-point play and later sank two free throws for a 19-13 lead. Then Clough ended the half with back-to-back 3’s for a 25-13 lead.

“That really opened it up,” Magnusson said. “I think it gave them a little more confidence. We had some foul trouble and that made it hard to figure out our rotation. Christine Miller is a great player, and we were trying to figure out how to stop her and get people in the right spots.”

Dirigo also struggled to counter. The Cougars were 0-for-6 from the floor in the second and had nine turnovers. Dirigo went nine minutes between field goals. The defensive pressure that the Cougars handled well in the first quarter, began to overwhelm in the second.

“They’re really quick,” Paradis said. “I think we got a little tired. Our girls know their team very well. We dropped back a little. We still wanted to put that pressure on them, even if it was in the halfcourt. When they got their second wind, they wanted to put that pressure back on.”

Dirigo tried to muster various rallies in the second half. The Cougars opened the third quarter with six straight. Conant, Emma Lueders and Hutchins all scored to get within six. After a Hall jumper, Henderson fed Hutchins for a basket to make it 27-21.

Miller scored on a drive and later hit a 3 to bump the lead back to 34-22.

Dirigo was within 34-26 after three, but baskets by Sanborn and Sage Hyland made it 38-26. Dirigo then countered with seven straight points to get within 38-32 and had a couple chances to get closer but missed some free throws.

Maranacook ran off six straight on baskets by Liz D’Angelo, Hyland and Hall to open the lead again. Dirigo didn’t score its first field goal of the final quarter until a Hutchins hoop in the final minute.

“Kristen Hall came up huge with some second half baskets,” Paradis said. “We were looking for that from her all season long. It just came down to having some confidence and getting the job done. I thought she forgot what happened in the past and really stepped up big for us. Sage Hyland as well, going to the basket. Those are kids that normally don’t score a lot for us but they hit some key shots in the second half.”

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