AUGUSTA — Jaycie Christopher knows how old she was and where she sat in the Augusta Civic Center the last time the Skowhegan girls basketball team won a regional championship, in 2010.

“I remember being here, I was 6, I wasn’t even 7yet,” Christopher said. “I was sitting (on the bench side of the arena) with my family. I remember so clearly, Skowhegan had to go the full length of the court and made a shot at the buzzer… Watching them celebrate and cut down the nets, that was the moment I was like, ‘I want to do that, too.'”

On Saturday night, Christopher got her wish.

Christopher scored 24 points and had six rebounds to lead the River Hawks to a 44-30 win over Lawrence in the Class A North final on Saturday at the Augusta Civic Center.  Skowhegan (21-0) moves on to the Class A final against Class A South champion Greely on Saturday in Portland.

Lawrence finished 17-4.

“Everybody stepped up today,” said Christopher, a senior guard who will be playing at Division I Boston University next year. “It was just a really good team win. It feels really good to come in and play well, especially after not performing well (in the semifinal round). There’s unfinished business, still one more to go. But it feels good.”

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Callaway LePage scored six points and had seven rebounds for Skowhegan. Brianna Poulin led the Bulldogs with 11 points.

“It feels good (to be regional champions), but we’ve got unfinished business,” Skowhegan head coach Mike LeBlanc said. “It’s a great win, but we still have set our goals a little higher. Hopefully we’ll be able to play a good basketball game next week.”

Skowhegan’s defense was strong throughout, holding Lawrence to single digit scoring three out of four quarters. The River Hawks also forced 13 turnovers in the first half.

“That was everything for us,” Christopher said. “We didn’t know what (Lawrence) was going to do defensively, we didn’t know if they’d come out in a box-and-one, kind of zone, or man. We didn’t know. We knew that the way we were going to win this game is if we got it done on the defensive end.”

Skowhegan’s Annabelle Morris, center, battles for the loose ball with Lawrence defenders Ali Higgins, left and Alisabeth Dumont during the Class A North final Saturday night at the Augusta Civic Center. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

“At the beginning of the year, we talked about taking care of things we can control,” LeBlanc said. “Defensive pressure and intensity is something we can control if our shot’s not going down. If we hold good teams down, we have a shot of winning because we have (Christopher). She’s going to score her points. That’s been our main goal in every game is our defensive pressure, positioning and playing team defense.”

Christopher started strong from the beginning, scoring 15 points in the first half, 10 of which came in the first quarter. The River Hawks jumped out to a 14-7 lead after the first, then extended their lead to 23-12 by halftime., punctuated by a Christopher 3-pointer just before the buzzer.

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“(Skowhegan) was more physical than us in the beginning,” Lawrence head coach Greg Chesley said. “Early on, I think we were a little nervous. They were ready. Skowhegan was in the passing lanes. They had armbars on a lot of our girls, not in a bad way, but in the way it’s taught. We couldn’t run through it, couldn’t shake it. It took us a while, at least a half, to kind of get through that. They were going to be physical, and we had to respond. We just didn’t respond quick enough.”

Skowhegan senior Jaycie Christopher blocks a shot from Lawrence junior Hope Bouchard during the Class A North final Saturday night at the Augusta Civic Center. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

Lawrence returns most of its roster next season, with guard Emily Hagerty being the team’s lone senior. The Bulldogs fought through adversity during the season, including a car accident that kept guard MaKenzie Nadeau out for the remainder of the season and guard Hope Bouchard out for multiple games.

“We really had three seasons,” Chesley said. “We had our preseason to Christmas, undefeated, getting ready for Skowhegan. Then we had a pretty major event happen that took out a couple girls. We also got hit by the COVID factor at the same time, we played a varsity game with only seven girls. We had that stretch and I couldn’t be more proud of how they responded.”

 

Dave Dyer – 621-5640

[email protected]

Twitter: @Dave_Dyer


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