Class AA: State Tourney Thread

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Re: Class AA: State Tourney Thread

Postby Tom Nolette » Thu Mar 02, 2017 4:34 am

Gorham girls gear up for gold

GORHAM (WGME) -- On Saturday night the Gorham girls’ basketball team will face Oxford Hills for the Class AA State Championship.

The Rams they know what's at stake, but remain laser focused on the task at hand.

http://wgme.com/sports/content/gorham-g ... p-for-gold
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Re: Class AA: State Tourney Thread

Postby Tom Nolette » Fri Mar 03, 2017 5:23 am

Morton's and Eastman's roles have changed, but their impact remains for Oxford Hills

... “I think she really bought into that role of this deep threat,” Pelletier said, “and these last seven or eight games, she’s averaging two to three 3-pointers made a game — and they’re not close, they’re like 5 feet behind the 3, some of them.”

Pelletier said that his senior captains’ willingness to alter their roles has helped set an unselfish tone for the entire team.

Now the Vikings and their unselfish, balanced approach will face powerhouse Gorham, which is going for its second consecutive AA state championship.

“We’ll have to be shooting good, and we’ll have to be defending good, because it’s not an accident that they’ve won 41 games in a row,” Eastman said. “We definitely need to have a good game plan, and then we’ll just go from there, see how the game’s going.”

http://www.sunjournal.com/news/local-sp ... ls/2086385
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Re: Class AA: State Tourney Thread

Postby Tom Nolette » Sat Mar 04, 2017 5:13 am

How the Class AA teams match up
Gorham (20-0) faces Oxford Hills (19-1) in the state championship game Saturday.

KEY PLAYERS: Gorham – Emily Esposito, sr. G (19.8 points, 5.7 rebounds, 4.1 assists, 3.9 steals), Mackenzie Holmes, so. C (19.1 points, 9.3 rebounds, 4.6 blocks), Kaylea Lundin, sr. G (7.3 points, 3.5 assists, 2.1 steals), Kristen Curley, sr. G (3.2 points, 4.3 rebounds), Michelle Rowe, jr. F (5.4 points, 5.8 rebounds, 2.3 assists); Oxford Hills – Julia Colby, fr. G (11.4 points, 5.5 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 2.7 steals), Jadah Adams, so. C (10.8 points, 7.0 rebounds), Erin Morton, sr. G (9.6 points, 4.8 rebounds, 3.2 assists), Maighread Laliberte, jr. F (9.4 points, 4.1 rebounds), Erin Eastman, sr. G (6.0 points, 2.0 rebounds).

WHAT GORHAM HAS TO DO TO WIN:

http://www.pressherald.com/2017/03/04/g ... -match-up/
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Re: Class AA: State Tourney Thread

Postby Tom Nolette » Sat Mar 04, 2017 5:21 am

Gorham seeks second consecutive Class AA title
The Rams take a 41-game winning streak into the championship game against Oxford Hills.


... “Coach (Laughn) Berthiaume always says before a game, ‘We’re chasing perfection,’ which is a good quote to start us off,” said senior guard Emily Esposito, who will play next at Villanova. “I think it’s just we’re all competitors and don’t want to settle for beating a team by this much. We want to win and be proud of it and have a good one.”

It all starts in practice. The Rams, who have two of the top five players in the state in Esposito (19.8 points, 5.7 rebounds, 4.1 assists and 3.9 steals per game) and Holmes (19.1 points, 9.3 rebounds, 4.6 blocks), go at each other as hard as possible.

“It’s good to see, we push each other around, we make each other better,” said Esposito. “It’s not like if someone pushes someone around we’ll have hurt feelings. I think that’s what’s different about this team, we can get on each other and yell at each other for the better of the team. People are OK with that. They know it’s coming from a good place.”

http://www.pressherald.com/2017/03/03/g ... -aa-title/
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Re: Class AA: State Tourney Thread

Postby Tom Nolette » Sun Mar 05, 2017 4:51 am

March 4 , 2017 State Championship Final

Gorham 45, Oxford Hills 31

Video Highlights
- http://wabi.tv/2017/03/05/chases-clutch ... rst-title/

- http://www.wcsh6.com/sports/high-school ... /419881032
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Re: Class AA: State Tourney Thread

Postby Tom Nolette » Sun Mar 05, 2017 6:07 am

Gorham repeats as Class AA champion
The Rams hold Oxford Hills to nine points in the second half, securing their 42nd consecutive victory, 45-31.

... While Oxford Hills tied the game at 24 on a spinning layup by Julia Colby with 5:38 left in the third quarter, Gorham regained its focus. Rowe hit two foul shots with 3:11 left to make it 26-24, then Esposito – who will next play at Villanova University – scored the final seven points of the third quarter to give Gorham a 33-24 lead into the fourth.

First was a foul-line jumper in which she showed the defender the ball then spun away. Then a 12-foot pull-up jumper and finally a 3-pointer from the left of the key.

“She really wasn’t going to be denied,” said Berthiaume. “She’s been the best player and she acted like it today.”

http://www.pressherald.com/2017/03/04/g ... -champion/
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Re: Class AA: State Tourney Thread

Postby Tom Nolette » Sun Mar 05, 2017 6:30 am

Gorham overcomes Oxford Hills to win second straight AA title

... Oxford Hills made only 3 of 20 field goals in the second half after shooting 8 for 17 (47 percent) in the first.

“Defensively, our girls gave everything they’ve got,” Pelletier said. “But they played pretty good defense, too, and they weren’t allowing our kids to be comfortable anywhere they could be.”

Colby and Adams led Oxford Hills with eight points each. Morton added six.

Oxford Hills finishes the season 19-2 and with a Class AA North regional title.

“They (Gorham) are the total package, and we gave ourselves a chance to win, and I’m very proud of the girls for that,” Pelletier said.

“As a whole, it’s just an amazing journey,” he added. “We talked about it with the kids, what you’re going to remember is last week cutting down the nets to win the Northern Maine championship. This one’s stings a little bit, but you’ve got to keep your head high, because they just battled.”

http://www.sunjournal.com/news/local-sp ... le/2087566
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Re: Class AA: State Tourney Thread

Postby MattyB » Sun Mar 05, 2017 12:08 pm

MBR Exclusive: Gorham girls repeat, end Oxford Hills’ memorable run

Michael Hoffer, Special to MBR


AUGUSTA--For one team, it was an anticipated coronation.

For the other, it was a disappointing, albeit inspirational culmination.

For both the Gorham and Oxford Hills girls’ basketball team, there was ample reason to feel pride at the Augusta Civic Center Saturday evening after they did battle in an entertaining Class AA state final in front of a large and vocal crowd.

For much of the game, a Vikings’ upset was a distinct possibility, as the underdogs raced to a nine-point lead early in the second period, but the defending champion Rams settled down and closed the first half on a 15-4 run and went ahead for the first time when sophomore post standout Mackenzie Holmes fought through three defenders and finished with a minute to go in the second quarter for a 24-22 halftime advantage.

Oxford Hills tied the score with 5:38 to play in the third period, then went cold for nearly nine minutes and that, combined with the brilliance of Gorham senior Emily Esposito, spelled doom.

Seven straight Esposito points helped the Rams open up a 33-24 lead after three periods and in the fourth, while the Vikings did manage to pull within six on a free throw from freshman Julia Colby with 2:30 to play, Gorham refused to buckle and clinched the Gold Ball at the free throw line, making six of eight foul shots down the stretch to pull away and prevail, 45-31.

Esposito, who will take her show to Villanova University in Philadelphia next year, closed her sensational high school career with 20 points to lead all scorers as the Rams finished 21-0, extended their two-year unbeaten streak to 42 games and ended Oxford Hills’ fine campaign at 19-2 in the process.

“It’s pretty special,” said Gorham coach Laughn Berthiaume. “We didn’t look ahead too far, but this will be fun to look back on. We had close, challenging games along the way.”

“We gave ourselves a chance to win and I’m proud of that, but we just couldn’t put the ball in the basket,” lamented Oxford Hills coach Nate Pelletier.

Pride and destiny
Gorham entered play not only riding a 41-game win streak, but the Rams had also won seven of nine previous state finals, including last year’s inaugural Class AA title, 46-36, over Edward Little.

Oxford Hills had lost its three prior games, to Lawrence in 1990, Deering in 2008 and McAuley in 2014.

Gorham had passed every test, but after an 18-0 regular season and a decisive win over Maine Girls’ Academy in the AA South semifinals, the Rams got pushed to the wire by South Portland in the regional final, 46-44.

Oxford Hills also earned the top seed, in AA North, then dispatched Bangor (avenging its lone loss in the process) and Deering (in an overtime thriller) to advance.

The teams didn’t play in the regular season.

Saturday, Oxford Hills made things very interesting for quite awhile, but ultimately, Gorham wouldn’t be denied.

The Vikings couldn’t have asked for a better start, as Gorham came out cold and committed three turnovers in its first four possessions and Oxford Hills got a layup from sophomore Jadah Adams (set up by senior Erin Morton) and Colby drained a 3-pointer to make it 5-0.

The Rams got on the board with 5:01 left in the opening stanza when Esposito set up Holmes for a layup and after a resounding Holmes block at one end of the floor, senior sparkplug Kaylea Lundin fed Esposito for a game-tying 3 at the other.

The Vikings bounced back and finished the quarter strong, as a jumper from senior Hannah Kenney put them back on top and a late leaner from Adams made it 9-5 after eight minutes.

When senior Anna Pirainen started the second quarter with a bank shot and Pirainen threw a touchdown pass to Morton for a layup, Oxford Hills was up eight.
Gorham got a putback from junior Michelle Rowe, but junior Maighread Laliberte countered with a corner 3 for a nine-point advantage, which proved to be the Vikings’ biggest, and Berthiaume had to call timeout.

A runner from Rowe got the Rams back within seven, but Pirainen answered with a baseline jumper to make it 18-9.

After Lundin hit a 3, Esposito made a jumper, but with 4:45 to go in the half, Adams made two free throws for a 20-14 lead.

The rest of the half belonged to Gorham, which finished on a 10-2 surge.

The rally started when Holmes put back her own miss. Esposito then made a bank shot while being fouled and added the free throw to complete the old-fashioned three-point play to make it a one-point game.

Oxford Hills momentarily stemmed the tide when Adams made two foul shots, but a corner 3 from sophomore Courtney Brent pulled the Rams even and with 1 minute remaining, Holmes fought through three defenders and finished for a 24-22 advantage, Gorham’s first of the game, and that score held up into the half.

In the first eight minutes, Esposito had eight points, while Homes added six points, six rebounds, two blocked shots and two steals.

Adams led the Vikings with eight points, but they committed seven second period turnovers to help Gorham rally.

In the third period, after a slow start, Esposito willed her team into the lead.

It took 2:22 for a point to be scored in the second half before Colby got a runner to fall in, tying it, 24-24.

Oxford Hills wouldn’t score again in the frame and the Rams closed on a 9-0 run.

Gorham ended a 5:49 drought when Rowe made two free throws with 3:11 left.

That put the Rams ahead to stay and Esposito stretched the lead with a personal 7-0 run, spinning, stymieing a defender with a Globetrotters-esque fake before getting a jumper to roll in, then scoring on a leaner and burying a long 3 to make it 33-24 heading for the final stanza.

“I like to prove the other team wrong,” Esposito. “Early on, I tried to do too much. One on one, I thought I could drive on them, but they double teamed me or collapsed on Mackenzie. We started swinging the ball around quicker and got open looks. We had to adjust to the game and we did that well. In my opinion, that’s how it should have been in the first half too. We have athletic girls on our team. We came out slow. We had to come wanting it in the second half.”

“Emily wasn’t going to be denied,” Berthiaume said. “She’s been the best player and she acted like it today.”

“If you’re her coach, that’s what you hope a girl going to Villanova will do,” Pelletier marveled. “We had a defensive breakdown and didn’t get out on her.”

In the fourth quarter, Gorham did what it took to cut down the nets again.

It took 3:10 for a point to be scored, as Colby set up Morton for a layup, which snapped an 8:48 drought, but Holmes made a free throw with 4:24 to go, then added another 41 seconds later.

After Colby hit a leaner, Esposito made both ends of a one-and-one with 3:07 remaining, stretching the lead to 37-28.

With 2:50 left, Morton made two free throws and 20 seconds later, Colby cut the deficit to six with another, but with 2:23 to play, Esposito again made both ends of a one-and-one for a 39-31 lead.

After Rowe made the lead double digits with two foul shots with 2:07 left, Esposito sank another free throw 29 seconds later and the lead was 42-31.

After an Oxford Hills miss, Holmes got the rebound and gave the ball to senior Kristen Curley, who threw ahead to Rowe for a layup.

With 38 seconds left, Rowe added a free throw. Esposito then stole the ball and Gorham ran out the clock and at 7:29 p.m., the Rams celebrated their second consecutive Class AA title.

“I loved having the target,” Esposito said. “That fueled me. I know I’m going on to play in college, but it won’t be the same as doing it with the kids I grew up with, my friends. That’s why this is so special to me. I wanted to come up here and put the pedal to the metal. I love winning and winning by a lot. Freshman and sophomore year, it was good to come in and learn the ropes and adjust. I wouldn’t change my career at all. I ended on two great years and went out a champion. It’s awesome.”

“Obviously, it wasn’t the start we wanted, but defensively, we dug ourselves out of it,” Berthiaume said. “It was important we stopped them on one end and got a good shot at the other. We had to make sure when we closed out that we used our length. They were too comfortable with their looks in the first quarter. Then we challenged them and Mackenzie challenged shots at the rim.”

The Rams got 20 points and five steals from the nonpareil Esposito, who will likely be named Miss Maine Basketball later this month before taking her show to Villanova.

Rowe had another huge tournament game, scoring 11 points and adding seven rebounds.

“Michelle’s made big plays for us,” Berthiaume said. “She’s not a returning starter, so she can be overlooked. She knows what her role is and she played it well.”
Holmes fell two points shy of a double-double, as she had eight points, 14 rebounds and three blocks.

Brent and Lundin (three steals) had three points apiece.

Curley didn’t score, but grabbed six boards.

Gorham enjoyed a 30-17 rebounding advantage, shot 14 of 44 from the field, made 4 of 15 3-pointers and 13 of 19 free throws and overcame 18 turnovers.

Closer and closer

Oxford Hlls was paced by eight points apiece from Adams and Colby (five rebounds). Morton had six points (four rebounds, three assists and two steals), Pirainen added four, Laliberte had three (and a pair of blocks) and Kenney two.

The Vikings only made 11 of 37 shots (just 3 of 20 in the second half), including 2 of 12 3s. They sank 7 of 9 foul shots, but turned the ball over 20 times.

Oxford Hills comported itself very well and had every reason to leave the Civic Center with its head held high.

“The second half of the year we’ve started games very well and I felt like against the best team in the state, we came out and played our game,” Pelletier said. “They went on a run in the second quarter that we couldn’t stop. We cut it to six in the fourth quarter. We gave ourselves a chance to win, but we just couldn’t put the ball in the basket. Our goal coming in was to hold them under 50 (points) and we felt it we did, we could win. Defensively, our girls gave everything they’ve got, but they played good defense too. Some of our shots were rushed because they close out hard and they’re bigger and quicker than what we’ve seen. They’re the total package. The one game we lost, we shot 10 of 60 from the floor. Tonight, it just didn’t happen. We got them to take shots we wanted them to take in the first half. We didn’t rebound very well in the second half and they got second chance opportunities.

“When we started the season, we didn’t know what to expect. We had seniors back and freshmen coming in. Our middle two classes were smaller classes. To come out and play through adversity, it was an amazing journey. What we’ll remember is cutting down the nets last week, winning the Northern Maine championship. This one stings, but we’ll keep our head high.”

The Vikings say goodbye to Kenney, Morton, Pirainen, Emma Davidson, Erin Eastman, Sophia Hanscom and Krystin Paine, but a strong core returns and reinforcements are on the way.

Pelletier is confident that the elusive Gold Ball is just a matter of time.

“Every year, we keep getting closer and closer,” Pelletier said. “We’re going to get there. We have a lot of young kids who play a lot of basketball. We’re looking for next year and the year after to be successful. Whether or not we get to this point depends on what we do this summer.”

Three-peat after me?

Popular wisdom suggests that Gorham, due to the departure of Curley, Esposito and Lundin, will come back to the pack next winter and that South Portland (or perhaps Scarborough) will be the team to beat.

Those seniors will definitely be missed.

“It starts with the seniors,” Berthiaume said. “Those three seniors have started collectively 210 games. That’s a lot of experience on the floor. They know how to win. I think that showed. The moment wasn’t too big for them. It’ll be extremely hard to say goodbye to the seniors. We’ve spent a lot of time together. I’m happy for them. This is how it was supposed to end for them.”

It wouldn’t be wise to bet against the Rams, however, next year or any year.

Not only do Holmes and Rowe return, but players like Brent, sophomore Brittany Desjardin and freshman Jacqueline Hamilton will build on this season’s experience to make Gorham championship caliber again in 2017-18.

“The cupboard is not bare,” Berthiaume said. “The kids who had to play against our seniors in practice got great experience. That’ll be just fine for us. We’re losing a lot, but we get a lot back too.”
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Re: Class AA: State Tourney Thread

Postby Tom Nolette » Thu Mar 09, 2017 9:20 am

ARCHIVE:
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