BANGOR—The Washburn Beavers girls basketball team has not been trailing by 11 points In the first half too often in the past four years.
They overcome that deficit on Saturday morning at the Cross Insurance Center to earn their fifth straight Eastern Maine title. Joan Overman and Mackenzie Worcester combined for 26 second half points as the Beavers rallied for a 58-44 victory over Fort Fairfield in the Maine Principals’ Association class D Eastern Maine championship game.
“We got down I think eight when we played them (Fort Fairfield) at their court, so we have been there before,”Worcester said. “We knew that we could come back, we just needed to dig deep and give it all that we had, that is what we did.”
Washburn scored the first basket of the game when Emelia Churchill drained a three pointer. Fort Fairfield scored the next six points, and built the lead to seven in the first quarter. The Tigers extended the lead to 24-13 during the second quarter.
Washburn made a few adjustments, and got back to what they do best. They went on a 15-2 run that extended into the second quarter. They took a lead they would not give back when Churchill drained a three pointer to give the Beavers a 30-29 advantage with 5:14 remaining in the third quarter. Washburn forced 21 Fort Fairfield turnovers.
“We got a little stuck in our half court offense, that is not our strength. We need to be running up and down the court,”Washburn coach Diana Trams said. “I think, when we made our adjustment and went to our zone press instead of our man to man, it really opened things up a little bit for us. We were able to create some turnovers.”
Overman added, “coach told us to keep our heads together. Play strong defense, crash the boards, focus on our offense and just play our game.”
Overman finished with a game high 23 points. She also recorded five steals, four rebounds, and one assist. The effort was much needed, as the Tigers were focused on stopping Worcester.
“This is a game that she (Overman) has been waiting for all season. We knew that Fort Fairfield would box and one me. Anytime that I can a screen it is a double or maybe even triple teamed,”Worcester said. “We knew that would open up Joan. We were telling her all week, it is your game today. She came up big.”
Overman added, “I got some open looks. Emelia Churchill and Laina (Mette) had some good shots too.”
Earlier this week, Worcester was named to the McDonald’s senior all star team and named a semi-finalist for the Miss Maine Basketball award. Overman was left off the senior all star team, despite a successful career for the four time defending state champions.
“Coming into this tournament she (Overman) was disappointed to not get the nod for McDonald’s all star,”Trams said. “I told her that one way she could handle that information was to step up and elevate her game. I think she did that today.”
Worcester secured the victory by going 6-6 from the free throw line in the fourth quarter. She finished with 14 points, eight rebounds, three assists, and three steals.
“Mackenzie Worcester is our floor leader and captain. She is very composed out their on the court,”Trams said. “I have been very fortunate to coach her. I don’t think that I will see any player like her in my career.”
Churchill scored 15 points and grabbed five rebounds for the Beavers. Mette recorded four points, three assists, and two rebounds. Washburn (21-0) will attempt to be the first girls basketball team in state history to win five straight state championships when they take on Rangeley on February 28th at the Cross Insurance Center.
Fort Fairfield out rebounded Washburn 40-21. Chelsey Pelkey led the Tigers with 15 points, five steals, four rebounds, and three assists. Megan Jellison scored 10 points and grabbed 11 rebounds. Teresa Maynard recorded seven points and 15 rebounds. All three losses this season for Fort Fairfield (18-3) came against the Beavers.