Oceanside outdistances Medomak Valley in late-season battle of playoff teamsMidcoast rivals combine to make 20-of-24 free throws
Rockland — With the high school girls basketball regular season coming down to the wire, games have a bit more meaning in the grander playoff scheme, and such was the case when Midcoast rivals Medomak Valley and Oceanside met on the court Friday night, Jan. 31.
And, after 32 minutes of competitive, hard-nosed play, the Mariners had the Panthers' number for the second time this winter.
Oceanside earned a solid 47-39 win over visiting Medomak Valley as the Knox and Lincoln county squads continued to vie for higher Eastern Class B tournament positions.
In the Maine Principals' Association Heal Point Standings for Eastern Class B, Oceanside (9-7, 69.7531 points) is fifth and Medomak Valley (10-7, 61.5741 points) seventh. Presque Isle (16-0, 128.2407 points) is first in the 19-team region. The top 13 teams qualify for the playoffs.
Oceanside also started the campaign with a 51-28 win over the Panthers.
On Friday, Oceanside led by as many as 11 points in the fourth quarter to build its largest lead before the Panthers cut their deficit to six points three times in the final eight minutes. However, the Mariners iced their free throws down the stretch to cement the victory.
Medomak Valley led 9-6 after one quarter before Oceanside grabbed a 20-16 halftime cushion. The hosts also led 32-28 after three stanzas.
The Panthers finished with 20 turnovers and the Mariners 13. Oceanside forced several of those turnovers in the second quarter at midcourt thanks, largely, to the host's tenacious defense.
The Mariners proved dead-eye from the foul line, as they made 9-of-10 free throws (90 percent), including 5-of-6 (83 percent) in the pivotal fourth stanza.
Keying the team's balanced scoring were Emily Gould with 11 points; Makenna Brooks, 10; Ashley Gardner, eight; Ari Curtis and Brooke Dugan, five; and Caitlin Raye, Lily Vachon, Payton Billingsley and Brianna Dugan, all two. Gould and Curtis drilled 3-pointers.
For the Panthers, Hannah Marks netted 13 points; Maggie Cox and Justice Barrows, eight; and Sophie Cohen and Sammie Griffin, five. Medomak Valley made 11-of-14 foul shots (79 percent) and received treys from Marks and Griffin.
The teams were light's-out from the foul line, as they combined to make 20-of-24 free throws (83 percent).
Oceanside started the third quarter on a 10-2 run, capped by a steal by Brooks for a layup with 5:08 remaining to put the hosts up 30-18.
The Mariners appeared to be pulling away, but the Panthers, later in the quarter, rattled off six straight points — field goals by Marks and Cohen, along with a pair of free throws by Cox — cut Medomak Valley's deficit to four points after three quarters.
Oceanside went on a 7-0 run to start the fourth quarter, thanks to treys from Brooks and Curtis and a free throw from Brooke Dugan, to extend its lead to 39-28. The visitors thrice cut their deficit to six points, but could get no closer.
"I am excited with how Oceanside played," said first-year Mariner coach Shawn Dulac. "We knew that Medomak was going to be a different team than the first time we played in the season opener. They are a good team. The Panthers got off to a hot start and led after the first quarter. We weathered the storm.
"Medomak is bigger than us, and we were able to use our speed to counter their size. Our defense was the difference like in the first matchup, but we had to mix things up to combat Medomak's adjustments and our own foul trouble.
"Also, the Oceanside bench was our unsung hero. They gathered some big rebounds, especially in the second half, made some key baskets, forced turnovers, and straight out hustled to maintain the lead once it was gained in the second quarter. We got huge and efficient minutes from them which allowed the starters to stay fresh and reenter the game with the lead they had earned.
"Lastly, besides having a lot of [tournament] Heal Points at stake, this was a rivalry game at home. As a result the girls were very excited to play right from the start, and they took advantage of the opportunity to perform in front of such an Oceanside crowd."