The Medomak Valley girls basketball team looked well on its way to a third straight win on the young season in a road contest against rival Camden Hills on Friday night, Dec. 15 as the Panthers held a 15-point advantage midway through the fourth quarter.

And, led by senior Lauren Miller, the Windjammers nearly threw a monkey wrench in the Panthers’ victory plans with an impressive fourth-quarter rally.

Despite the fact the hosts sliced their once sizable deficit to a mere five points in the waning minutes, the visiting Panthers pulled away with late free throws to net a 59-53 high school court victory.

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Medomak Valley, which has started the new campaign 3-0, led 15-13 after the first quarter and 33-26 at halftime, while extending its advantage to 48-35 after three quarters in the battle between Class A North and longtime Midcoast athletic rivals.

Gabby DePatsy keyed the Panthers with a 26-point effort, while Sadie Cohen added 10; Aubrey Schaeffer, nine; Lydia Simmons, five; Kayla Donlin, three; Hallie Kunesh, three; and Paige Powell, two.

For the Windjammers, winless in three games early in the season, Miller led the way with 16 points — 10 of which came in the fourth quarter to key an impressive late rally — while Laticia Billings added 15; Miranda Dunton and Mya Wiley, six; Audrey Bowman and MiAe DeWaard, three; and Seanna Montgomery and Kira Barley, two.

Medomak Valley was 20-of-36 (56 percent) from the foul line, while Camden Hills was 19-of-27 (70 percent).

“They’re missing some starters from last year, but they play hard and we knew it was going to be a battle,” said Medomak Valley coach Ryan McNelly. “A lot of fouls called, but we were able to spread them out and that really helped. Everyone came in and did what they needed to do.”

The Panthers enjoyed a 56-41 lead midway through the fourth quarter before Miller converted a whopping five baskets in a row to cut the Windjammer deficit to 56-51.

Schaeffer hit the first of two free throws to end the Windjammer run, and the Panthers got a key offensive rebound off the second missed free throw from DePatsy to extend the Medomak Valley possession.

DePatsy added two more foul shots as time wound down to help hold off the hosts.

“I’m very happy with how we played and how we scrapped and came back,” said Camden Hills coach Kim Kuhn. “I love my team. They fought hard and we know we can play.”

The game, by and large, was overshadowed by a bevy of fouls whistled against both squads. The opponents committed 12 firsthalf fouls and 11 in the second — for a total of 46 — and three players fouled out of the contest.

The coaches admitted — short of Miller’s late outburst in the fourth — it was difficult to establish rhythm offensively.

But McNelly said the Panthers will take the win and are pleased to be — at least for the time being — one of the top teams in Class A North.

“They said, ‘It’s nice not to be on that green bubble,’ ” said McNelly of his players, in reference to the final playoff spot in the region. “We’re pretty excited to be up there. Hopefully we can stay there for awhile, but we’ve got some tests and we’ve got to start playing better if we’re going to beat better programs.”