HEBRON — The Roadrunners had a mountain to climb early. They did.

Then, late in the game, they had a chance to put a dagger in the Lumberjacks. They did that, too.

In their return to the playoffs, the Roadrunners of Mt. Abram went on the road and dug themselves out of an early hole before putting Hebron Academy into one for good, winning a Class C South girls’ basketball preliminary round game 49-42 on Tuesday night.

Summer Ross hit a 3-pointer the first time the No. 10 Roadrunners (11-8) got the ball, but the sixth-seeded Lumberjacks (11-7) responded with a 10-0 run.

“I think it was nerves,” Mt. Abram coach Larry Donald said. “They haven’t been to the playoffs in five, six years. The expectations were high, and I think they just came out and let the jitters get to them.”

Host Hebron wasn’t able to build on that lead, scoring just once more in the first quarter while watching Mt. Abram close the gap to 12-11.

“When it was 10-3, I think we missed three or four 3s in there,” Hebron coach Colin Griggs said. “They didn’t fall then, and I think two more 3s in that stretch, if we had finished with 18 points at the end of the first quarter it would have made a big difference, for sure.”

The Lumberjacks couldn’t pull away again, and a putback by Megan Sorel with 1:45 left in the first half gave the Roadrunners their first lead since it was 3-0. Maddie New responded with a layup for Hebron, but Sorel completed a three-point play to put Mt. Abram up 23-21, and the Roadrunners never looked back.

“I just had to work hard in the post,” said Sorel, who scored a game-high 15 points. “They were a great defensive team, but you just got to assert yourself in the post and go up for every shot you can.”

“The last three minutes of that half is where we started playing our style of ball,” Donald said. “Got a few shots to drop.”

In one sign of where it went wrong for Hebron, the Lumberjacks opened the second half with an unforced turnover before even getting a shot attempt. Hebron committed 24 turnovers in the game.

“We weren’t careful with the ball,” Griggs said.

Mt. Abram narrowly stretched its lead to 34-27 heading into the fourth quarter, but then started the final period with the dagger it was looking for. Marya Beedy (10 points) hit a 3 on the opening possession, then Ross (14 points) stole the ball and turned it into a layup, making it 39-27 before the Lumberjacks could even blink.

“That killed us, especially because that was the one thing we had talked about, watch (Beedy) on the 3-point arc, and she opens the fourth quarter with that to extend their lead,” Griggs said. “That was kind of a dagger right there.”

“That was huge. Without that we may not have won the game,” Sorel said. “Our coach always tells us you got to come out and punch them in the mouth.”

New did answer the quick five-point spurt with a 3-pointer, but it was too little, too late. New scored half of her team-high 14 points in fourth, including two of her three 3s, but the Lumberjacks as a team made just 4 of 26 shots from behind the arc. Franceska Halloran, who added 12 points before fouling out late, made the other 3.

“We’ve been a team all year that has lived and died by the 3-pointer, and today we died by it,” Griggs said.

The Roadrunners made just enough free throws in the fourth to keep distance. They converted 6 of 11 from the charity stripe in the final period, including making each of their first five attempts.

“We won 10 games this year, and I’d say at least four of those, foul shots won the game for us,” Donald said.

Mt. Abram now moves on to the quarterfinals in Augusta, where the Roadrunners will face defending regional champion and second-seeded Boothbay on Monday. Donald said it will take “an act of God” to upset a Seahawks team that beat the Roadrunners by 46 points during the regular season.

“Boothbay is very well-coached, they’re tall, they’re long arms, they shoot well. That’s going to be a tough nut to crack,” Donald said.

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