Nokomis foils Camden Hills' bid to reach regional finalAll-time Windjammer scorer Knowlton finishes career with 1,532 points
Bangor — Holding a seven-point lead in the final four minutes of Wednesday afternoon's game, it appeared the No. 7 Camden Hills girls basketball team’s train to a regional championship berth would keep chugging down the tracks during its Eastern Class B semifinal playoff showdown with No. 3 Nokomis of Newport Feb. 20 at the Bangor Auditorium.
Then, in the blink of an eye, the Windjammer train went off the tracks.
The Warriors rattled off 12 straight points to end the game — and Camden Hills’ season — as Nokomis came away with a 45-40 victory at the Bangor Auditorium.
The Warriors aided their cause against the Windjammers Wednesday by connecting on six 3-pointers.
Camden Hills (14-7) defeated No. 10 Hermon in a preliminary playoff 68-53 Feb. 12 and No. 2 Oceanside in the quarterfinals 54-39 Feb. 15 to reach the semifinal round, while Nokomis (18-2), which earned an automatic bid to the quarterfinals by virtue of its top-three finish, bested No. 6 Belfast 49-39 in another quarterfinal playoff Feb. 15 to advance to Wednesday’s game.
Nokomis defeated Camden Hills 60-38 at Newport in the lone regular season meeting between the two squads.
Nokomis will advance to the Eastern Class B championship game where it will face either No. 1 Presque Isle (20-0, after a 62-48 quarterfinal win over No. 5 Mount Desert Island, 18-3), on Saturday, Feb. 23 at 2:05 p.m. back at the Bangor Auditorium.
Presque Isle is the defending state Class B champion and has not lost a game since the 2010-11 season.
Presque Isle has dominated any and all foes this season and some have joked that the regional tourney is simply the Wildcat Invitational, but anything can happen once the ball is tossed into the air and Nokomis will try to prove that the upcoming game against its Aroostook County opponent.
In Wednesday's competitive game between the Warriors and Windjammers, Camden Hills led 16-12 after one quarter and Nokomis led 22-21 at halftime. The game was tied 33-33 after three stanzas, while the Warriors outscored Camden Hills 12-7 over the final eight minutes to win the game.
Keying the Windjammers was Jordan Knowlton with a stellar 29-point performance as the senior finished her illustrious four-year career with 1,532 points, the best all-time among Windjammer scorers at Camden Hills and the former Camden-Rockport.
Additionally for Camden Hills Wednesday, Bekah Hilt tallied four points; Kristina Alex, three; and Mega LeGage and Rachel Pease, both two. Knowlton scored 10 points in the first quarter, four in the second, 10 in the third and five in the fourth.
The Windjammers were impressive from the foul line, netting 9-of-10 (90 percent), with Knowlton making all six foul shots she attempted.
For Nokomis, Anna MacKenzie tallied 10 points; Lindsay Whitney and Taylor Shaw, both nine; Kelsie Richards, seven; Traci Carson, five; Kylie Richards, three; and Makayla Charters, two. The Warriors made their living from behind the 3-point arc, netting six treys, including three from Whitney. Nokomis made 3-of-5 free throws (60 percent).
Camden Hills led 40-33 with 4:19 remaining after Knowlton canned a pair of free throws — but Nokomis, which struggled against Camden Hills’ 2-3 zone defense for much of the game, began to find the seams in the defense and began to hit shots — including a pair of critical 3-pointers from Kylie Richards and Whitney.
Coupled with the Warriors' sudden offensive surge came a handful of Windjammer turnovers, which the higher-seeded squad turned into quick baskets.
Camden Hills coach Marty Messer said not only was his team’s game plan to stick with the 2-3 zone defense, but to keep the game in the 40s in points for both teams.
While that is what happened on both accounts, “we came up just a little short,” said the third-year coach.
“We played pretty good defense for about three quarters up until the four-minute mark [of the fourth quarter],” he said. “The game plan worked. We’re in a 2-3 zone and we’re trying to take away the paint in the middle and unfortunately, the shots that we were giving up that weren’t going [in the basket] for three quarters in the last four minutes finally started dropping.”
Shaw scored off an offensive rebound with three minutes left to bring Nokomis to within five points, while the Windjammers promptly turned the ball over on the team’s next possession.
Whitney then canned a 3-pointer in front of the Nokomis bench with 2:40 left to cut the Warrior deficit to 40-38.
MacKenzie then tied the game with a hoop in the paint off an inbounds play with 1:46 remaining, which resulted in another Windjammer turnover as the Rockport-based squad attempted to pass the ball up the court through the Nokomis press.
Then Kylie Richards delivered the dagger — a trey from the wing with one minute remaining — to propel Nokomis to the win.
Camden Hills then turned the ball over again on a traveling violation, which gave Nokomis the ball back with 45 seconds left.
The Windjammers then were forced to foul with 10.1 seconds left, which sent Nokomis’ Shaw to the foul line.
She missed the front end of the 1-and-1, but Shaw — who started Nokomis’ 12-0 run with an offensive putback — ended it the same way, putting the Warriors up by five points and putting the game out of reach.
Despite the loss, Messer was pleased with his players, who ended the year winning six of their final eight games.
“I’m real proud of these girls,” he said. “We had an up-and-down season. We had a couple good wins, we had a couple losses here and there that we probably should have won. But I think we peaked at the right time and that’s what coaches want to happen.”
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