Monmouth’s Hannah Anderson (11) drives to the basket as Boothbay’s Page Brown follows from behind during their game at Monmouth Academy last season. (Sun Journal File Photo)

Hannah Anderson lives for this type of matchup.

The Monmouth senior will be the main defender charged with guarding Houlton’s Kolleen Bouchard, one of the state’s top players, in the Class C girls’ basketball state championship Saturday at the Augusta Civic Center.

“I don’t know, it’s fun,” Anderson said. “It’s fun playing against good competition.”

Bouchard averages 28 points, 10 rebounds and five assists per game.

In Monmouth’s C South final win over Boothbay, Anderson defended Faith Blethen, another one of the state’s top players.

“It’s hard, but I think it helps me get my focus in the game,” Anderson said. “I know that my teammates are depending on me and I’m depending on them.

“It kind of pumps me up for the game, too.”

Anderson has been starting for Monmouth since she was a sophomore. That’s also when she began drawing the toughest defensive assignments.

As Anderson said, defending good players helps her focus. Mustangs coach Scott Wing says with a smile that was part of the plan when she was a sophomore.

“Her sophomore year, part of the reason why I started putting her on the other team’s best player is Hannah sometimes has a hard time paying attention, and when she played the other team’s best player, she was forced to,” Wing said.

Even before that, defense was Anderson’s specialty, dating back to her over-aggressive elementary school days.

“Honestly, my defense has always been there,” she said. “I’m aggressive. I’ve just always been aggressive. I used to foul out of, like, every single game when I was younger. All the way from like fourth grade to sixth grade, I’d always foul out of every single game. I used to get angry a lot.”

Anderson is much more mellow now, but she still needs to play with a bit of an edge because, at 5-foot-7, she sometimes gives up several inches to the player she’s defending, such as the 6-foot-1 Blethen and, this Saturday, the 6-foot tall Bouchard.

“She’s pretty quick, and she’s also strong and rugged, so I think those things help out with her not being quite as tall,” Monmouth senior guard Tia Day said. “And she makes sure she gets a hand in their face, and can keep up with them laterally.”

Between regular season contests, Mountain Valley Conference championship games and postseason matchups, Anderson has faced Blethen several times over the past three seasons (though Anderson did miss this year’s regular-season meeting due to injury).

She said the key to defending taller players is making them uncomfortable.

“I just put a lot of pressure on her,” Anderson said. “I mean, no one likes getting face-guarded. It’s really annoying, you can’t really get a shot. I’ll just keep my hands up, because, honestly, she could shoot over my head pretty easily. I always keep my hands in her face so she can’t really shoot that easy, and I just put a lot of pressure on her. It obviously gets in her head.”

Bouchard might be a bit of a different challenge. Not only is she tall, but she’s fast, can handle the ball well and is a strong finisher.

“From what I’ve seen — I don’t see all the (Class) A and AA games — but I would say Kolleen Bouchard is probably the best player in the state of Maine,” Wing said.

Bouchard was named one of three finalists for the Miss Maine Basketball Award earlier this week. She reached 2,000 career points in the C North regional final (“That’s amazing. That’s crazy,” Anderson said. “That’s insane.”), and has led the Shiretowners to a fourth consecutive state championship game (2015 in Class C, 2016-17 in Class B — they won the first two, but lost to Gray-New Gloucester in last year’s B title game).

The Mustangs, meanwhile, are the defending Class C champs.

“I’m actually pretty excited to player her, and I have a good feeling about the game,” Anderson said. “I don’t know, I just have to shut her down, and people have to help on help defense. She has really good spin moves, and she finishes, so …”

Wing said the coaches tell Anderson she doesn’t need to shut down Bouchard, just prevent as much as she can.

Anderson also is an important contributor at the other end of the court.

She missed the first third of the season after rolling her ankle while driving to the hoop during the preseason. When she came back, it took some time for her to regain the confidence to attack the hoop, but as she did she became more of an offensive weapon for the Mustangs.

Anderson has an 8.6 scoring average. Wing said the points tend to come in bunches.

“Hannah’s always been a streaky offensive player,” he said. “It’s one of those things that, when she scores two, she usually scores eight. Then she might not score for a while, then she gets on another streak. That’s the kind of scorer she is.”

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