AUGUSTA — The Hall-Dale girls basketball team entered the second half of the Class C championship game last Saturday night with a 23-17 over Stearns.

And that’s when KK Wills made her impact felt.

The Hall-Dale senior guard put up a 3-pointer from the top of the key that gave her team a 26-17 cushion to start the third quarter.

The basket not only extended the lead, but it ended up being the catalyst for a huge third quarter for the Bulldogs.

Hall-Dale outscored Stearns 22-6 in the period and ended up taking a 57-42 victory to win the program’s first Class C title since 2011.

Getting out to a fast start in the second half didn’t come by happenstance, it came at the urging of Hall-Dale head coach OJ Jaramillo.

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“I like to watch the body language of the team we’re playing, and it was pretty obvious in the last two minutes (of the half) that (Stearns) was really starting to gas,” Jaramillo said. “The message (at halftime) was ‘We have them where we want them. The first two to three minutes of the third quarter, we need to run, run, run, run. Throughout the season, that’s kind of been our game, but probably by the four-minute mark in the third quarter, we were starting to pull away.”

“Sometimes we’re a team that kind of lets up,” Wills said. “We think we have it, but (we have to) nail them to the ground, keep them down while their down.”

The Bulldogs certainly did.

Hall-Dale holds the gold ball after beating Stearns in the Class C girls basketball state championship game Saturday at the Augusta Civic Center. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

Wills — who had four points in the first half and finished with 12 — nailed the first of two 3-pointers. Minutes later, Hall-Dale went on a 9-0 run to take a 40-21 lead. Hayden Madore, who led Hall-Dale with 16 points, scored six points in the period. Amanda Trepanier, who finished with 10 points, scored four points in third quarter.

The Bulldogs were far enough ahead that several reserve players came into the game in the fourth. The Bulldogs weathered a 12-0 Stearns run — which Lucy Gray ended with a 3-pointer late in the fourth, which sealed the game.

Hall-Dale seniors KK Wills, left, and Averi Baker cut down the net after the Bulldogs defeated North Yarmouth Academy in the Class C South title game Saturday morning at the Augusta Civic Center. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

Hall-Dale certainly did its part on the defensive end of the floor as well, forcing 13 turnovers out of Stearns in the first half alone, and would force more than 20 turnovers out of the Minutemen by the end of the game.

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“Transition (was key),” said Madore, a sophomore guard. “Slowing it down (offensively), we just had to push our tempo and play help defense and just play as a team.”

But without question, the third quarter provided pivotal for Hall-Dale. And it all started on Wills’ 3-pointer.

“(Winning the state title) shows all the work we put in,” she said. “We worked really hard. We’ve paid our dues since middle school and I think it shows.”

 

Dave Dyer — 621-5640

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Twitter: @Dave_Dyer

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