AUGUSTA — It’s on to the regional final for the North Yarmouth Academy girls basketball team.

And the Panthers left no doubt on their way there.

Catherine Reid scored 14 points, Maggie Larson had 11 and the third-seeded Panthers rolled past No. 2 Winthrop 55-34 in the Class C South semifinals at the Augusta Civic Center.

Winthrop’s Kate Perkins, middle, is surrounded by North Yarmouth Academy defenders Helen Hamblett, left, Katherine Larson, bottom, and Catherine Reid during a Class C South semifinal game Thursday at the Augusta Civic Center. Kennebec Journal photo by Joe Phelan

NYA will play No. 1 Boothbay in the final.

“It feels really good. It definitely felt a lot closer than it was,” Reid said. “Nothing was comfortable, but we just kept playing hard until the end.”

The Panthers’ defense was terrific. NYA (16-4) held Winthrop (17-3) to five points in each of the first two quarters, had six steals to the Ramblers’ zero en route to taking a 28-10 halftime lead, and limited the Ramblers to six field goals through three quarters while building a 40-21 advantage.

NYA also thrived on the boards. Helen Hamblett had 13 rebounds, Reid had 10 and Carly Downey and Sydney Plummer had eight apiece.

“The defense has been really active, getting a lot of tips, and we got good transition offense off our defense,” said coach Thomas Robinson, whose team also got eight points apiece from Katie Larson and Serena Mower. “I think the key was keeping them off the glass. We get the first rebound, they put two on us, we kick it out and then we’re off to the races.”

Looking to extend what’s been a season of growth, Winthrop ran into an opponent for which it had few answers on either end of the floor. Kena Souza scored 12 points, Aaliyah WilsonFalcone added seven and Layne Audet grabbed 13 rebounds.

“They were quick, their defense extended far up, they were very good offensively and defensively,” said Audet, one of four seniors. “We just didn’t deliver like we should have. They played a great game.”

Winthrop was in trouble early, down 14-5 after a 7-0 run to end the first quarter. When Kerrigan Anuszewski hit a jumper with 5:28 left in the half, it ended a stretch of nine minutes without a Winthrop point, and cut the deficit to 16-7.

NYA then scored 12 of the last 15 points of the half.

“That team is probably the quickest team we’ve played,” Robinson said. “I thought Serena did an unbelievable job at the point with all that pressure on her, all the time, to not turn the ball over. … They get a lot of points off turnovers.”

Still, Winthrop had hope. The Ramblers had erased a quick 12-1 deficit in a quarterfinal win over Old Orchard Beach, and there was faith on the bench that it could happen again.

“We were really hoping for another comeback like on Tuesday,” Audet said. “We tried as hard as we could.”

For a while, it looked like one might be in the works. Souza had a 3-point play and then hit a 3-pointer, and WilsonFalcone hit a pair of free throws for an 8-0 run to start the second half that made it 28-18 with 6:30 to go in the third quarter.

“We talked about coming out, getting it down to (single) digits in the third quarter so it was manageable in the fourth quarter,” coach Joe Burnham said. “So jumping out that way certainly put us in the position we wanted to be in.”

The door wasn’t open long. NYA went on a 12-0 run to put the game out of reach, getting four points from Reid and Mower during the stretch.

North Yarmouth Academy and Winthrop square off in a Class C South semifinal game Thursday at the Augusta Civic Center. Kennebec Journal photo by Joe Phelan

“They did a really nice job of ending that run and going on one of their own,” Burnham said. “It was an uphill battle all night.”

Even after the loss, Burnham and his players said the program took a step forward after missing the playoffs at 7-11 the year before.

“Being a senior, I was so glad that this was the year we made it to the Civic Center,” Audet said. “Even though it didn’t end the way we wanted it to, I’m glad we came here, got a win and we played our hearts out.”

“This was a special collection of girls,” Burnham said. “They didn’t care what had happened in the past. They just came into practice every day and every game, and competed.”

Drew Bonifant — 621-5638

[email protected]

Twitter: @dbonifantMTM