BANGOR — The debate prior to the Class B girls’ basketball championship game Friday night at Cross Insurance Center: Would the Gold Ball go to the best player, or the better team?

With apologies to a terrific Gray-New Gloucester group, once Kolleen Bouchard and Houlton got their hands on that coveted state trophy for the second consecutive season, the answer appeared to be “both.”

According to the best-laid plans and best-case scenario for the Patriots, if they contained the 5-10 sophomore, who plays point guard on offense and center on defense, their unusual balance and uncommon unselfishness might have been too much for the Shires.

Houlton prevailed, 48-35, to win the sixth state title in school history, and it thrived with a dizzying combination of individual excellence and team toughness.

Bouchard was held to a human 8-for-18 from the field and forced into six turnovers, but she still finished with 21 points, 12 rebounds and three blocked shots without ever leaving the 94-foot floor.

“She’s a complete player,” Houlton coach Shawn Graham said. “She can score, rebound and play defense, left hand or right hand. Just a really great leader out there.”

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University of Maine coach Richard Barron and assistant Amy Vachon watched from the courtside table, and it’s possible with a growth spurt and a few more sessions in the weight room that the wiry Bouchard could reach that level.

She is 2-for-2 in state finals, 2-for-2 at winning tournament most valuable player honors, and plays on a team for which three underclassmen reap a lion’s share of the minutes.

“Their leader is a sophomore who hasn’t lost a high school playoff game yet,” Gray-New Gloucester coach Mike Andreasen said. “As good as my kids are right now, we’re missing that floor general. We talk about the interchangeable parts and how they’re all the same, but sometimes you need somebody who’s not as ‘same’ as the rest.”

Bouchard hit two go-ahead baskets during the first half, while the game was still seriously in doubt. She set up another by finding Aspen Flewelling for a wide-open 3-pointer.

Her never-changing expression — a half-smile, as if she’s enjoying the challenge but obsessed with conquering it — was matched by her consistency. Bouchard scored four points in the first quarter, four in the second, six in the third and seven in the fourth.

Neither she nor Houlton missed a free throw, including nine consecutive swishes in the final 5:30.

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Defended by the quick Izzy DeTroy and Bri Jordan on the perimeter and the tall, mobile Skye Conley and Alanna Camerl in the paint, Bouchard crafted ways to score.

“I noticed they like to stuff the middle,” Bouchard said. “We didn’t come out hot at all. Then we started to get a rhythm going, and it was better.”

“She’s an excellent player. You can’t really stop her,” added Natalie Hill, who scored 10 points for Houlton. “She’s going to get those shots. She comes in at a weird angle sometimes, and she’s still going to make them. It’s awesome.”

Gray-New Gloucester made its living with a different star every night, and seven players averaging between 5 and 11 points.

It was Houlton, however, who had four average double digits, and all struck for at least eight against one of the stingiest defensive teams in the state.

“Shannon Todd (of York) is good. Anna DeWolfe (of Greely) is good. We’ve seen those kids,” Andreasen said. “She’s very good, but what Kolleen had tonight, I thought her teammates were pretty good. They made foul shots. They made plays. It wasn’t just her. She was the catalyst. If she scored 21 of the 48, I guess she was the catalyst.”

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Six Shires saw most of the playing time in the final.

A school of only 340 students, compared to Gray-New Gloucester’s 550, Houlton wasn’t sure if it could rally for the rare C-B double after losing senior Katie Condon to a season-ending knee injury.

“We were looking at the program before the game and we were like, ‘Holy cow, they have 210 more people than we do.’ But I mean, you don’t need a lot of kids. You just need talent,” Bouchard said. “Everybody’s head was somewhere else (after losing Condon), but we came back stronger than ever.”

They weren’t merely a star. They were a constellation.

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