The senior guard from Washburn was missing early, and worried about the implications in the Class D state championship game.

“I honestly thought I was going to have a rough game after missing those first few shots,” Worcester said. “I know to take it to the rim when I’m missing. Then I’ll gain confidence after hitting some easier shots.”

The shots eventually fell and her confidence soared. Worcester finished the game with a Class D state record 37 points. She also passed the 2,000-point mark while leading her Washburn team to an unprecedented fifth consecutive state title with a 60-54 win over Rangeley.

“It was an amazing day,” said Worcester, who entered the game needing 36 to reach 2,000. “I didn’t think I’d get it. I thought I was 40 or 50 points away from it. My dad told me this morning how close I was. It made me a little more nervous.”

Though Rangeley got a superb, 30-point effort from senior Taylor Esty, it wasn’t enough to overcome Worcester in a battle of unbeaten. Her 18 points in the second quarter opened up the lead. Rangeley got within five late in the fourth, but the Lakers couldn’t overcome the deficit or solve Worcester.

“We were going back and forth but we just couldn’t stop Mackenzie Worcester,” said Esty, who also had a game-high 11 rebounds . “We knew she’s a great player. We tried to put our best defensive players on her. We just weren’t getting the help side stepping up in time. If we had our help side, we could have stopped her. It was just the penetration in the paint that killed us.”


While many girls’ basketball programs have won four straight, the Beavers separated themselves with Saturday’s fifth consecutive Gold Ball. It was a milestone Washburn tried not to think about or focus on this season, but after tough challenge from the Lakers, this victory was among their most appreciated.

“This is definitely sweeter because it was a tough battle the whole game,” Worcester said. “To win a tough hard game like this, it definitely makes it more sweet.”

The odds were against the Lakers, facing a proven championship team. The Western Maine champion has not won the Class D crown since Rangeley did it 2004. Eastern Maine teams have now won 11 in a row.

“I definitely think we played Washburn to our best ability,” Esty said. “That’s probably the best game they’ve seen defensive-wise. I definitely think they had to push for their points.”

Despite being on the losing end, it was a tremendous effort by the Lakers. Rangeley dominated the inside and gave Washburn one of its toughest challenges of the season.

“I’m actually really proud of how this season went this year, especially being my senior year,” Esty said. “I’m proud to say that I’m a Western Maine champion. That hasn’t happened since 2004. I’m really proud to be able to say that. I bleed green and gold.”


In addition to Worcester’s 37, Joan Overman added 10 while Emelia Churchill had eight. While Esty led the Lakers with 30, Seve Deery-DeRaps added 14 and Blayke Morin had 10.

Foul trouble plagued the Lakers early. Morin and Maddison Egan picked up early fouls and were nursing foul trouble the entire game. Losing Morin effected Rangeley’s plans to attack the post and losing Egan hurt the Lakers’ hopes of stopping Worcester. Egan was one of the first defenders on Worcester and Natasha Halley tried as well. Going to the bench made the Lakers less seasoned on the court against a veteran team. Junior Michaela Shorey and freshman Sydney Royce filled in off the bench like they did during the regional tournament.

“We had a game plan and we wanted to go inside,” Rangeley coach Heidi Deery said. “I think we executed that but when we got away from that and didn’t take care of the ball on the press breaker or things like that, that hurt us. Credit the job by Washburn. It took her 37 points to beat us. I don’t think that there’s any shame in that.”

While many teams opt for a zone against Worcester, Rangeley didn’t go that route. They stuck with the man-to-man. The Lakers did a pretty good job for the most part, but Worcester was able to hit shots while covered and managed to weave her way through the defense despite being guarded.

“We just really believe in the fundamental part of the game of playing man-to-man” said Deery. “I’m not saying we’d never go to a zone. I have. We did for a few possessions. I just feel there’s more accountability in man. When we did go to the zone on a couple of possessions she hit one or two 3’s. “

Rangeley jumped out to a quick 5-0 lead on a basket by Morin and a three-point play by Deery-DeRaps. The Beavers started slowly but picked up the pace and erased the deficit soon enough. Washburn scored six straight to take a 6-5 lead on a Worcester basket. Though Rangeley prepared for the press, the Lakers still had nearly 30 turnovers.


“We practiced here Tuesday and had a great practice,” Esty said. “Coming back here, with so many fans and it being Washburn, we didn’t want them to get their fifth in a row. So we were kind of rushing things.”

Rangeley took the lead back on a fast break by Esty and a post hoop from Morin. Worcester finished the quarter with a drive and then a free throw to tie it 9-9.

Washburn opened the lead in the second quarter with 11 straight points, turning an 18-16 deficit into a 27-8 lead. Worcester hit a pair of 3’s and scored four other points during that run.

“I think we were definitely a little nervous at first,” Worcester said. “Then we started to get into our game and settled down. It started to flow for us.”

Rangeley managed to get within 31-25 with five points by Deery-DeRaps late in the half. The Beavers opened the lead again in the third. Each time Rangeley scored, the Beavers were able to answer. It wasn’t until back-to-back baskets by Worcester that made it 48-37 late in the third. A basket by Esty cut it to 48-39 after three.

Washburn bumped the lead up to 14 in the fourth. A pair of baskets by Natalie Doody, off Worcester feeds, made it 54-40. After a Worcester basket off a steal made it 56-42, Rangeley ran off six straight Morin scored and Esty had a pair of baskets to trim it to 56-48 with 2:14 left.


Worcester was nursing four fouls and the Beavers missed some free throws down the stretch, but the Lakers couldn’t capitalize. Worcester fed Overman for a basket with 1:47 left to make it 58-48. Deery-DeRaps had a pair of 3’s in the last minute but the Lakers couldn’t get any closer.

“We just ran out of time,” Deery said. “We dug ourselves a little bit of a hole when I had to have Blayke and Maddie on the bench. When you’re asking for freshmen and younger players to step up in a game like this, it’s tough.

“That’s what makes them a great team. I don’t want to take anything away from them or our kids. I think our kids came to play. I’m very proud of their effort that they brought. They really believed that we could beat them. I thought we could have but we didn’t.”

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