The No. 6 Medomak Valley girls basketball team’s bid to knock off No. 3 Messalonskee of Oakland on Friday afternoon, Feb. 16 at the Augusta Civic Center could not have gotten off to a better start, as junior Maddy White gave the Panthers a 3-0 lead with a shot from beyond the arc on the squads’s first possession.

However, due to a bevy of turnovers and miscues — for both squads in a helter-skelter first quarter — the Panther lead quickly dissipated.

And, try as they might, the Panthers had no answers for 6-foot 2-inch sophomore Gabrielle Wener, who poured in a game-high 27 points to help the Eagles soar to a 63-49 Class A North quarterfinal playoff victory.

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With the win, Messalonskee (13-6) — the defending state Class A champions — advances to face No. 2 Skowhegan (15-4), a 66-38 quarterfinal winner over No. 7 Nokomis of Newport (9-10), on Wednesday, Feb. 21 at 2:30 p.m. in the semifinals back at the ACC.

Messalonskee defeated Skowhegan 62-57 on Jan. 13 and beat Nokomis twice — 45-40 on Dec. 29 and 49-38 on Jan. 30. The Eagles on beat the Panthers 45-44 in the teams' lone regular-season meeting.

Medomak Valley’s campaign wrapped at 11-8.

Messalonskee held an early 9-7 edge after a low-scoring first quarter, but extended its advantage over Medomak Valley 31-18 at halftime and 47-33 after three quarters.

Along with Wener’s 27-point effort, Alyssa Genness and Makayla Wilson chipped in with 11 and 10 points, respectively; Ally Turner, six; Emily Parent, three; and Brianne Bedeck and Katie Seekins, two.

Maddy White led the Panthers with an 11-point effort, while Gabby DePatsy netted nine; Aubrey Schaeffer and Hallie Kunesh, six; and Abby Lash and Kayla Donlin, two.

The Panthers were 7-of-14 (50 percent) from the charity stripe, while the Eagles were 10-of-24 (42 percent).

Statistically, Schaeffer (6 rebounds, 3 assists), DePatsy (6 rebounds, 2 blocked shots), Donlin (8 rebounds, 2 assists), Simmons (5 rebounds), White (2 assists) and Cohen (7 rebounds, 2 assists, 3 steals) keyed the Panthers. For the Eagles, Wener (5 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 blocks), Turner (4 rebounds, 4 assists, 6 steals, 2 blocks), Genness (4 rebounds) and Seekins (4 rebounds) led the charge.

“We thought we matched up fairly well with them,” said Medomak Valley coach Ryan McNelly of his Panthers, who lost to the Eagles by a single point earlier in the season. “One thing I was worried about was a state championship team last year being comfortable on the floor, and they definitely were today.”

“We started off the game pretty well, but as we got going the game got chaotic at times both ways,” said White. “And we just had a hard time pulling it back together in the end.”

McNelly said his team had game-planned to contain Turner, which they did, holding the senior co-captain to six points.

But, “Wener just went off.”

“She hit everything,” the coach said.

After White’s 3-pointer to start the game, Messalonskee rattled off the next five points off a pair of fast-break layups by Wilson and a foul shot by Turner.

The Eagles did not begin to pull away until late in the second quarter, but the Panthers never led again as the teams struggled to gain a significant advantage after the first eight minutes.

Messalonskee led 9-7 after the first quarter and flew out of the gate in the second to the tune of a 9-0 run after a Genness floater and three-pointer play, a sweet wraparound layup by Wener and another hoop by Genness off a give-and-go from a teammate, to give the Eagles an 18-7 edge.

Even when the Panthers made a strong defensive play, the Eagles turned it into an advantage.

Donlin deflected a Turner shot in the paint which wound up in the hands of Seekins — who found an open Wener in the corner — for an 3-pointer to make the score 25-12 with 3:40 to go in the stanza.

The Eagles continued to distance themselves from the Panthers when Wener swished a 3-pointer from well beyond the arc to beat the halftime horn.

“It was tough,” said McNelly. “We looked scared at times, at time we played well [and] and times we worked hard. I think the nerves hit us in the first half, and we tried to get back in the second half but couldn’t make any gains.”

Medomak Valley continued to keep the game close in the third quarter, as it cut its deficit to 40-30 after a hoop from Cohen and a pair of free throws from Donlin, but Messalonskee went on a 7-3 run to end the quarter after five straight points from Wener and later a shot from the wing by Benecke.

The Eagles’ saw their lead swell to as many as 22 points midway through the fourth quarter.