AUGUSTA — Cheverus needed three quarters to figure out how to stop Bangor senior forward Katie Butler. By then, it was too late.

Butler scored 18 of her team-high 20 points in the first three quarters, then went cold from the free-throw line in the fourth quarter while the Stags started to claw back. A potential game-winning Cheverus basket missed, and so did a putback as the Rams held on for a 46-44 victory in a Class AA North girls’ basketball quarterfinal at Augusta Civic Center on Thursday.

Butler completed a three-point play on the first possession for the No. 5 Rams (9-10). Then, at the other end she pulled down a rebound off a Cheverus miss, flashing the kind of game she was about to have.

“She’s fiercely competitive. She’s one of the most competitive, intense girls I’ve ever coached,” Bangor coach Joe Johnson said. “You got the rebounds, the blocks, she really can do it all.”

The fourth-seeded Stags (11-8) fell behind 10-2, with Butler and Sam Thayer scoring five points apiece.

“We did some things defensively in the first half that weren’t great,” Cheverus coach Steve Huntington said. “They got Katie Butler off some easy baskets, got to the free-throw line. Then when she draws attention down low, that opened up some of their shooters, and they shot the heck out of it.”

Butler had 12 points by halftime, and the Rams held a 29-13 lead.

“That 16-point lead, we needed all of it,” Johnson said.

The lead stretched to 32-13, thanks to a Butler block and a Lauren Young 3-pointer. But the Stags sent out a full-court press that started to wear down the Rams.

“Our girls played as well as I’ve seen in the second half, especially from the defensive end,” Huntington said. “We haven’t pressured full-court in a while.”

That pressure led to turnovers, which led to a 10-point period for Cheverus junior guard Abby Cavallaro, who scored a game-high 25 points.

“She’s got great hands, great instincts, and obviously helped us on the offensive end as well,” Huntington said.

The Bangor lead was still 38-27 heading into the fourth, but then Butler and Megan Conner started missing free throws. Butler made two of her first three, but missed her final five in the fourth. Conner missed four out of five.

The lead was just three when Young hit the last of her four 3s with 2:25 left to make it 45-39.

“Hard to believe we’ve been begging that kid to shoot all year,” Johnson said.

The deficit was whittled down to 45-44 in the final minute, then Conner hit her lone free throw. Cheverus nearly tied the game up with 35 seconds to play, but Cavallaro was called for traveling on the potential tying layup.

The Stags still had one more shot out of a timeout with 13 seconds left, but Ally Tilotson’s 3 bounced off the rim and Cavallaro’s putback wouldn’t go in, either.

“Just one possession, maybe one timeout, short,” Huntington said. “That last play is not what we drew up. We tried to switch a couple positions and there was some confusion.”

The Rams now advance to play No. 1 Oxford Hills in the regional semifinals. Bangor was the lone team to beat the Vikings during the regular season.

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