Round three: Camden Hills, Oceanside to battle in BangorWindjammers beat Hermon in prelim, face Mariners next at 'Mecca'
Rockport — Is everyone ready for round three of Camden Hills versus Oceanside, this time in a high school girls basketball playoff battle on the hallowed floor at the Bangor Auditorium?
That scenario will play out as the Windjammers took care of business Tuesday night, Feb. 12 in an Eastern Class B prelim playoff game and now will face Midcoast-rival Oceanside in a quarterfinal playoff game in Bangor.
No. 7 Camden Hills (13-6) made quick work of No. 10 Hermon (9-10) Tuesday en route to a 68-53 win, thanks, in large part, to an impressive 31-point, 19-rebound, 6-assist performance from senior Jordan Knowlton.
The Windjammers will play No. 2 Oceanside (16-2) on Friday, Feb. 16 at 6:30 p.m. in a quarterfinal game at the Bangor Auditorium.
During the regular season, the Mariners, the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class B champions, beat Camden Hills twice — 54-47 Dec. 21 in Rockport and 63-38 Feb. 7 in Rockland.
Camden Hills and Hermon do not play during the regular season.
On Tuesday, the Windjammers left little doubt which team would punch its ticket to the Bangor Auditorium, as Camden Hills led 12-9, 34-25 and 53-41 at the quarter breaks against the Hawks.
Leading the way was Knowlton, the Windjammers' all-time career scoring leader with 1,480 points, as there was no way the senior was not going to experience another game — or more — in Bangor to cap her final season.
“I’ve never seen us play so good,” said Knowlton. “We definitely came out wanting to win. After that hard loss to Oceanside [to end the regular season] it’s definitely good to have a good win. A solid win, too.”
The sensational performance by the senior forward also marked her final game at Camden Hills Regional High School.
Rachel Pease also added an impressive 12 points, 13 rebounds, seven blocked shots and five steals for Camden Hills.
Pease has been an important part of the Windjammers' success the second half of the season as the squad has gone 10-2 over its last 12 games.
“This is her second year and she is doing wonderful,” said Knowlton of her sophomore teammate. “She definitely uses her height as an advantage. She gets in there, she’s always rebounding, always fighting for [loose] balls, she’s always where she needs to be. She’s helped us a lot definitely.”
“So many teams focus on boxing out Jordan and worrying about her that [Rachel] comes right in for the garbage points,” said Camden Hills coach Marty Messer. “She’s done so much for us the last month and a half. Defensively she changes the game for us.”
Additionally, Bekah Hilt (7 points, 3 rebounds), Megan LeGage (6 points, 7 rebounds, 2 steals, 4 assists), Krisitna Alex (2 points, 2 rebounds), Jaclyn Gilson (4 points, 3 rebounds), Macy Buck (4 points, 2 rebounds, 3 assists) and Hannah Wincklehofer (2 points) chipped in with steady efforts for the hosts.
For Hermon, Jenna Crouse tallied 18 points; Raychel Alley, 11; Allessa Oakes, 10; Shelby Caron, nine; and Claire Peterson, Bryanne Crouse, Sheniah Haskell and Katie Kivler, all two.
Camden Hills made 14-of-24 free throws (58 percent) and Hermon 14-of-22 (64 percent).
Messer said he was pleased with his team's performance, perhaps playing out of its comfort zone being the favorites.
“When you’re hosting someone you’re usually favored to win,” he said. “We’re 12-6 and they’re 9-9 and based on the scouting reports I’ve heard we should win. So for me, that’s when the pressure’s on. I’d almost rather be the underdog.”
The Windjammers got a nice lead early on before the Hawks clawed back into the game before Messer went to his key players — namely, Knowlton, LeGage and Pease — to help the hosts pull away.
Messer said winning the rebounding battle was an integral piece of the team's success as the Windjammers beat the Hawks 47-21 in that category.
“We got so many offensive rebounds at crucial times, especially Jordan,” Messer said. “Megan did a great job guarding Rachel Alley, who’s one of the best at penetrating in their league [by] holding her to four points in the first half.”
Knowlton got two quick fouls in the first quarter put played with poise the rest of the way, finishing with three fouls in the contest and keying the Windjammer offense.
Hermon cut its deficit to single digits on a trey from Alley with 4:10 left in regulation, but Pease netted a free throw and came up with a key block a minute later, which resulted in a transition hoop for LeGage, to push the Windjammer lead to 64-52.
LeGage later netted a free throw on the front end of a 1-and-1 and Knowlton popped in the offensive rebound on the senior guard's second missed attempt, pushing the hosts' lead to 15 points and putting the game out of reach for the Hawks.
Now the Windjammers face the arduous task of knocking off the Mariners on the grandest of stages Friday night — and Messer said his team is ready.
“Not only is it a tournament game at Bangor, it’s against our rivals and both times we played them this season we thought we should have played better," he said. "They’re a very good team [and] very deep, so we’ll have to come out of the gate early and play our best game."
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