Windjammers survive rough Pony ride in prelim playoff victory
By Ken Waltz and Beth A. Birmingham
Feb 10, 2015
Camden Hills' Rachel Pease, right, and Eliza Boetsch vie for a rebound during a Feb. 10 high school girls basketball game against Foxcroft Academy in Rockport. The host Windjammers beat the Ponies of Dover-Foxcroft 38-31 in an Eastern Class B prelim playoff game. - (Photo by: Beth A. Birmingham)

Rockport — With Camden Hills staring playoff elimination in the face, against a much lower-seeded opponent on its home court, the Windjammers' postseason future appeared somewhat bleak.

One of the team's players needed to make a significant play during crunch time and Charlotte Messer accepted the challenge.

Messer drilled a game-tying 3-pointer with 10 seconds remaining in regulation to help No. 4 Camden Hills (14-5) force overtime and, ultimately, earn a thrilling 38-31 overtime win over No. 13 Foxcroft Academy (5-14) in Tuesday night's Eastern Class B high school girls basketball prelim playoff game.

The victory, which came with considerable struggle for the Windjammers, thrusts them into the regional quarterfinals at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor.

And, as fate would have it, Camden Hills will face Midcoast-rival Oceanside, the fifth-seed, in the quarterfinals on Saturday, Feb. 14 at 10:35 a.m. in an all-Midcoast affair.

The Windjammers and Mariners, who beat No. 12 Maine Central Institute of Pittsfield 54-45 in another prelim playoff game Tuesday (see other story), thrilled area fans with two thrilling regular-season battles, as Camden Hills won both — 56-54 and 50-46.

On Tuesday against the Ponies, the Windjammers trailed before Messer drained a trey out of a timeout. Then Maddie Bowman converted a key basket in the first minute of OT to give the hosts the lead and the precious momentum.

Rachel Pease finished with nine rebounds and five blocked shots for the winners in the low-scoring, defensive struggle.

"Unbelievable effort down the stretch," said first-year coach Meg Cressler of her players. "This time of the year defense is so important and Foxcroft [Academy] was able to contain us for three quarters. We were fortunate to make some big shots and get some key turnovers in the fourth quarter and in OT."

Leading Camden Hills, which did not play the Ponies of Dover-Foxcroft during the regular season, were Bowman with 12 points; Pease, 10; Messer, seven; Eliza Boetsch, six; and Hannah Wincklhofer, three.

The Windjammers made 7-of-10 free throws (70 percent) and three treys, including two from Messer.

For FA, Abby Simpson netted 10 points; Madison Chadbourne, eight; Liz Richards, seven; and Grace Bickford, six. The Ponies made 8-of-10 foul shots (80 percent) and a 3-pointer from Richards.

The game was knotted 6-6 after one quarter, while Camden Hills led 15-14 at halftime. The contest was tied 22-22 after three stanzas and 31-31 at the end of regulation.

Then the Windjammers outscored the Ponies 7-0 in the extra time, as Bowman had a basket and Camden Hills netted 5-of-8 foul shots.

Asked her thoughts after the game, Cressler said, "A little close for comfort is the first thing that comes to mind. We knew Foxcroft [Academy] had played a lot of teams really close and we knew they play opposite of us ... they get a lot of points from inside. We knew we had to contain, and we didn't do a very good job of that for three quarters.

"So, you know, we get into the fourth quarter and overtime and we start playing how we are capable of playing and that was just lucky that we won. It could've gone either way and we made some big shots. Charlotte hitting that 3-pointer was just huge. And a couple of big rebounds and we're going out of here with a win."

FA led 12-6 with 3:38 to go in the second quarter, showing strength on the boards. With less than a minute left in the opening half, Bowman hit two free throws to put the hosts ahead 15-14.

The game was back and forth throughout third, as the Windjammers showed improved rebounding.

With 4:22 remaining in the fourth, Richard sank a 3-pointer to give the visitors a 29-24 lead.

With 38 seconds left, Pease connected on inside jumper to bring the Windjammers within 31-28.

Then came Messer's game-changing 3-pointer in the final seconds to force overtime — and a journey to Bangor for Camden Hills.

In OT, Bowman scored with 3:16 left in the four-minute overtime, while Pease and Boetsch made two foul shots and Messer one the rest of the way to seal the deal.

(Photo by: Beth A. Birmingham) Camden Hills' Mara Dostie, left, and Foxcroft Academy's Madison Chadbourne.
(Photo by: Beth A. Birmingham) Camden Hills' Charlotte Messer, middle, Eliza Boetsch, left, Maddie Bowman, back middle, and Rachel Pease. Also pictured are Foxcroft Academy's Abby Simpson (40) and Liz Richard (2).
(Photo by: Beth A. Birmingham) Camden Hills' Charlotte Messer, middle, Eliza Boetsch, left, Maddie Bowman, back middle, and Rachel Pease. Also pictured are Foxcroft Academy's Abby Simpson (40) and Liz Richard (2).
(Photo by: Beth A. Birmingham) Foxcroft Academy's Liz Richard, left, and Camden Hills' Kristen Keiran.
(Photo by: Beth A. Birmingham) Camden Hills' Mara Dostie, right, and Hannah Wincklhofer, left, as well as Foxcroft Academy's Grace Bickford.
(Photo by: Beth A. Birmingham) Camden Hills players clap for a positive play from their teammates.
(Photo by: Beth A. Birmingham) Camden Hills' Kira Barley.
(Photo by: Beth A. Birmingham) Camden Hills' Eliza Boetsch (20).
(Photo by: Beth A. Birmingham) Camden Hills' Charlotte Messer, second from left, among the Ponies.
(Photo by: Beth A. Birmingham) Camden Hills' Rachel Pease (22) and Mara Dostie, left, as well as Foxcroft Academy's Kendra Ewer, right.
(Photo by: Beth A. Birmingham) Camden Hills' Charlotte Messer, left, and Foxcroft Academy's Kendra Ewer.
(Photo by: Beth A. Birmingham) Camden Hills' Maddie Bowman (31), as well as Foxcroft Academy's Abbi Bourget, left, and Liz Richard.
(Photo by: Beth A. Birmingham) Camden Hills' Eliza Boetsch, left, along with Foxcroft Academy's Liz Richard (2) and a Pony teammate.