BELFAST — With one game hanging in the balance until the final seconds and the other a lopsided score, fans of Hope Elementary School experienced a range of emotions in the Busline League small school division championships on Monday night, Feb. 14 at Troy Howard Middle School.

But, by day’s end — on Valentine’s Day no less — the Hawk teams got a sweetheart of a deal. Namely, a pair of middle school league championship plaques for their trophy case.

Hope’s Leah Jones, right, and Jefferson’s Renee Ripley. Photo by Mark Haskell

The Hawk girls — despite a late injury to one of their top players — held off previously-undefeated Jefferson and netted a 56-54 victory, while the Hawk boys scored early and often and soared past Bristol with a 69-35 triumph.

The following is a breakdown of the title tilts:


In the postseason, Jefferson (8-1), the top-seeded, South titlist, defeated No 5 St. George 47-29 and No. 3 Woolwich 41-11 to advance to the title game.

In the playoffs, Hope (10-1), the top-seeded, North titlist, defeated No. 4 Searsport 45-20 and No. 3 Lincolnville 40-29 to advance to the title game.

Hope’s Norah Grotton, left, and Maggie McCarthy. Photo by Mark Haskell

Team members for Hope, led by coaches Ben Laukka and Alina Smith, include Tildy Stewart, Thea Laukka, Leah Jones, Alanna Smith, Norah Grotton, Anika Dyer, Morgan Blanchette and Maggie McCarthy.

Team members for Jefferson, led by coach Nathan Northrup, include Lauryn Northrup, Renee Ripley, Morgan McIvor, Paige Green-Morse, Lauren Dufour, Ali Frazier, Shayla Phenj, Addison Brann and Scarlett McLaughlin.

In the title game, Hope jumped to an 18-11 lead at the end of the first quarter, extended its advantage to 35-24 at halftime and 47-39 edge after three stanzas.

Hope’s Thea Laukka, left, along with Maggie McCarthy (44) and Jefferson’s Lauryn Northrup. Photo by Mark Haskell

Thea Laukka poured in 27 points to lead the Hawks, while Jones added in 25 and Alanna Smith four. Thea Laukka and Jones combined to can an impressive 10 three-pointers in the win.

For the Chargers, Northrup netted 20 points, while Ripley added 18 and Dufour 16.

The Hawks were 6-of-8 (75 percent) from the charity stripe, while the Chargers were 10-of-16 (62 percent).

Laukka netted a three-pointer to start the fourth quarter to give the Hawks an 11-point lead, but the Chargers got a basket from Ripley and a three-point play from Northrup and quickly found themselves down 50-44.

Hope’s Leah Jones, middle, and Jefferson’s Lauren Dufour. Photo by Mark Haskell

Later in the stanza, a hoop down low by Dufour brought Jefferson within 54-50 with 1:51 to go, but a quick hoop by Jones pushed Hope’s edge to six points.

Thea Laukka, Hope’s leading scorer in the contest, left the game with 1:14 to go after badly rolling her ankle on a shot attempt and did not return, which  left the door open for a potential Jefferson comeback.

Four quick points later by Northrup — two free throws and a layup off a steal — brought the Chargers within two points at 56-54 with 15 seconds to go.

However the Chargers — having committed only one team foul in the half to that point — were forced to commit multiple fouls in a short amount of time in an attempt to put the Hawks at the foul line for a 1-and-1 situation, where they could potentially regain possession.

Jefferson was able to get the ball back in the waning seconds off a turnover, but a potential halfcourt heave to win the game missed the mark.


In the postseason, Hope (11-0), the top-seeded, North titlist, defeated No. 4 Appleton 63-35 and No. 2 Searsport 74-39 to advance to the title game.

In the playoffs, Bristol (6-7), the fourth-seeded, South titlist, defeated No. 4 Nobleboro 50-30, upset top-seeded South Bristol 49-47 and bested No. 3 St. George 53-37 to advance to the title game.

Hope’s Harris Stewart. Photo by Mark Haskell

Team members for Hope, led by coach Peter Fagonde, include Alec Brown, Quinn Ryan, Harrison Stewart, Kristian Hall, Archer Harrison, Carter Grant, Conner Harris, Micah Fagonde, Nolan Ames, Shea MacMillan, Wilder Haskins, Mikey Hall and Tucker Whitley.

Team members for Bristol, led by coach Richie McKenney, include Blais Eddyblouin, James Wyman-Benner, Joey Crooker, Ryan Powell, Paul Leeman, Talon Westhover, Declan DiMauro, Ernest Poland, Hamilton Pierpan, Malachi Farren, Anderson Pierpan, Koleman Cheesebro and Ryan Curtis.

Hope’s Tucker Whitley, right, and Bristol’s Deklan DiMauro. Photo by Mark Haskell

In the title game, Hope went on the offensive quickly and led 19-9 after the first quarter, 32-13 at halftime and 55-26 after three stanzas.

Ames led the newly-crowned league champs with 22 points, while Micah Fagonde added 11; Brown and Whitley, seven; MacMillan and Haskins, five; and Stewart, Grant and Hall, four.

For the Blue Devils, Farren poured in 30 points, while Cheesebro added four and Crooker two.

Hope’s Carter Grant, left, and Micah Fagonde. Photo by Mark Haskell

Hope was 7-of-11 (63 percent) from the foul line, while Bristol was 4-of-12 (33 percent).

The Hawks played every bit the part of the heavily-favored higher seed as their potent offense was fed throughout by a tenacious defense that forced multiple Blue Devil turnovers.

While Bristol had won three straight playoff games — including two straight over higher-ranked opponents — the Blue Devils could not keep pace with the Hawks.

Hope’s Alec Brown, left, among others. Photo by Mark Haskell

Hope outscored Bristol in all four stanzas, but, ultimately, a 13-4 second-quarter run shut the door in a potential comeback for the South champs.

Brown and Farren traded hoops — Brown on an offensive putback and Farren with a jumper — before jumpers by Micah Fagonde and Jones extended Hope’s lead to 25-11.

Cheesebro converted a runner for Bristol, but Hope ended the stanza on a 7-0 run — which ended on a runner from Jones with 11 seconds to go — which gave the Hawks a 19-point halftime cushion.

The Hawks continued to pull away after they netted the first six points of the third quarter after a short hoop from Brown and Micah Fagonde penetrated through the paint for one basket and scored in transition off a steal moments later to make the score 38-13.