High school girls basketball

In tale of two halves, Oceanside falls to Skowhegan in quarterfinals

Mariners led by eight points at halftime, but outscored 30-13 in final two quarters
By Ken Waltz | Feb 17, 2017
Photo by: Ken Waltz Oceanside's Hope Butler, right, defends Skowhegan's Sydney Ames during a Feb. 17 high school girls basketball Class A North quarterfinal playoff game at the Augusta Civic Center. The Indians netted a 50-41 victory over the Mariners.

Augusta — If the Oceanside girls had a magical lamp and one wish on one day, it would be that for Friday, Feb. 17, high school basketball games were limited to one half — preferably the initial 16 minutes.

That is because the No. 10 Mariners turned in one of their most complete halves of play of the season and built a solid advantage against No. 2 Skowhegan in a serious upset bid during a Class B North quarterfinal playoff game at the Augusta Civic Center.

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It appeared Oceanside's strong performance in a prelim win over No. 7 Waterville four days earlier carried over against Skowhegan, but the Mariners were unable to maintain or sustain that elevated play over 32 minutes.

Alas, in a tale of two halves, the Indians (15-4) elevated their overall game, hit key shots, gained a lead and then kept the Mariners (8-12) at arm's-length in the second half en route to a 50-41 victory and berth in the regional semifinals.

Skowhegan will play No. 3 Nokomis of Newport (15-4) on Wednesday, Feb. 22 in Augusta. The Warriors defeated No. 6 Camden Hills (11-8) 55-41 in another quarterfinal encounter the same day at the same venue.

Oceanside defeated Waterville (9-10) 48-39 in a prelim affair on Tuesday, Feb. 14. The Mariners and Indians did not play each other during the regular season.

In Friday's quarterfinal playoff encounter, Oceanside led 14-9 and 28-20 at the first two breaks, but trailed 41-34 after three stanzas. In retrospect, perhaps the Mariner wished the game could have continued and halftime cancelled.

Mariner coach Sam Bragg said the difference in the halves, which saw Skowhegan outscore Oceanside 30-13 over the final 16 minutes, was the Indians started to make shots, especially pivotal, confidence-building 3-pointers, in the third quarter and that, in turn, forced Oceanside to try to keep pace offensively, which resulted in, at times, costly turnovers, a scenario that perpetuated itself as the game slipped from the Mariners' grasp.

The coach said Skowhegan came out in the second half with a 2-2-1 defense, which the Mariners figured the Indians would do, but turnovers hurt Oceanside's cause

"Which led to some quick baskets for them, gave them some momentum and then they started knocking down some threes," Bragg said. "They didn't do that in the first half and they started doing that in the second half and I think we got a little rattled. And on offense we rushed because we felt we needed to get those points back right now instead of just trying to play our game."

Still, the Mariners, who were hit hard by the injury bug this season, hung tough and had a chance even late in the contest before Skowhegan closed out the victory.

Hope Butler, Alexis Maurek and Gabby Simmons had stellar performances for the Mariners, with 11, 10 and nine points, respectively. Sara Dorr also proved solid with seven points, while Jillian Brooks and Kassidy Robinson added two.

The Mariners made 8-of-12 free throws (67 percent) and got a 3-pointer from Butler. Simmons tallied all her points in the first half, while Mazurek and Butler added six as Oceanside built its advantage in the first half.

Additionally, Simmons (2 rebounds, 3 steals, 3 assists), Brooks (2 rebounds, 2 steals), Butler (2 steals), Mazurek (3 rebounds), Elise Laslavic (4 rebounds), Raechel Joyce (2 rebounds) and Dorr (3 rebounds) chipped in statistically.

For Skowhegan, coached by Michael LeBlanc, employed at one point with the Rockland Recreation Department, Mariah Dunbar and Annie Cooke scored 13 points; Alyssa Everett, nine; Emma Duffy, eight; Sydney Reed, five; and Lindsay Warren, two.

The Indians netted 10-of-19 foul shots (53 percent) and really made hay from deep waters, making six treys, including three from Dunbar, two from Duffy and one from Reed.

Cooke tallied nine points and Dunbar eight for the Indians in the second half.

The turning point was the third quarter, when the Indians outscored the Mariners 21-6, as Cooke netted seven points, Dunbar and Reed five and Everett four. Reed and Dunbar connected on 3-pointers in the quarter.

That rush changed an eight-point deficit into a seven-point advantage for the higher seed.

The Mariners came out gunning for bear early in the game as Brooks and Mazurek scored to give the lower-seed a quick 4-0 lead. However, Mazurek was forced to the bench with her second foul at the 4:12-mark.

The game was knotted 5-5 before Simmons hit a shot and Dunbar a 3-pointer with 2:35 left to give Skowhegan its first lead at 8-7.

Dorr converted a put-back at 1:28 and posted up for a hoop and free throw for a conventional three-point play in the final minute to give Oceanside a 12-8 edge.

Robinson, just inserted into the game, also scored down low to give the Mariners a 14-8 advantage.

Oceanside clung to a 15-13 lead three minutes into the second quarter before Simmons scored on a cut. Then Duffy's 3-pointer from the corner sliced the Mariner advantage to 17-16.

Oceanside continued to play intelligent, inspired ball on both ends of the court as Butler converted a runner at 3:08 and Simmons scored after a steal 14 seconds later to make it 21-16. Then Butler netted a corner 3-pointer, Simmons a nifty bank shot and Mazurek a hoop from Simmons to give the fast-sailing Mariners a 28-18 advantage.

"They were ready to go," Bragg said of the Mariners at the start of the game. "Since we played Gardiner in the last game of the season they really started to believe we could play with anybody. And them, of course, after the [prelim playoff] win at Waterville, it just kind of translated over."

However, in perhaps in an indication of what was to come, Dunbar scored at the buzzer to end the half to give the Indians life at 28-20.

Then came the second half as Skowhegan began to assert itself and that, in turn, forced the Mariners to try to keep pace, which, they did for a bit, but, overall, could not.

Oceanside actually took a 30-20 lead early in the third quarter on Butler's hoop, but the Indians then went on a 14-0 run to take the lead for good.

With 6:10 left, Dunbar's 3-pointer tied the game 30-30 and the tide and momentum had turned.

With 5:42 remaining, Cooke scored on a putback to give Skowhegan its first lead, 32-30, and from that point, the Indians rolled — with significant push back from the Mariners. The Indians capped their 14-0 run with a steal and score by Everett.

Dorr scored inside to momentarily stem the tide for Oceanside and got the Mariners within 34-32. However, Cooke and Dunbar hit back-to-back shots and Skowhegan led 38-32. Oceanside hung tough as Mazurek netted a jumper to make it 38-34, but Reed's 3-pointer near the end of the third gave Skowhegan a 41-34 lead at the break.

Oceanside stayed relatively close at 41-36 after Mazurek's two free throws early in the fourth, but Dunbar's trey from the corner with 5:09 left made it 44-36. Butler converted a drive to bring the Mariners within 44-38.

After Duffy's 3-pointer at the 4:19-mark made it 47-38, Mazurek again hit two foul shots to make it 48-41. But, ultimately, time ran out on Oceanside's season.

In the end, the upset was not to be as the Mariners seemingly had the Indians right where they want them, but, could not seal the deal.

"Overall, we wanted a better record on the season, but I thought the kids battled some adversity," Bragg said. "We had a lot of injuries so we had a lot of different starting lineups, different sixth man, different kind of kids coming off the bench, and I thought they handled that really well and stepped into their roles really nicely throughout the season."

Oceanside versus Skowhegan girls basketball
Oceanside versus Skowhegan on Feb. 17 in high school girls basketball Class A quarterfinal playoff action in Augusta. (Video by: Zack Miller of VStv)
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