FARMINGTON — The last time Mt. Blue played in a meaningful girls basketball game, the Cougars led by 17 at halftime, but lost to Skowhegan in overtime in the Eastern A quarterfinals.
When the Cougars opened their revamped gymnasium Friday night, they were facing the same Skowhegan team. The Indians led by as much as 12 in the first half, but Mt. Blue rallied for a 55-48 victory.
“It just took a little while to get there, but we weren’t losing that game,” said Mt. Blue senior Gabby Foy, who hit four 3-pointers and finished with a game-high 19 points. “Skowhegan snagged us in the tournament game. We knew we owed them one — even more than one. We weren’t going to let them snag this one from us.”
For the record, Skowhegan’s Adriana Martineau (11 points) scored the first basket in the new gym, and Foy hit the first 3-pointer. That was one of few highlights in the first half for the Cougars, who missed their first nine shots from the field.
In the second quarter, Skowhegan used 6-foot-1 Morgan Buker to go on a 14-2 run and take a 24-12 lead. Buker finished with 15 points and shot 7-for-8 from the foul line, and the Indians settled for a 27-19 lead at the half.
Mt. Blue looked more aggressive and less tentative in the second half, and began the third quarter with a 12-1 run. Amy Hilton’s 3-pointer tied it at 28, and another 3 by Mackenzie Conlogue gave Mt. Blue its first lead at 31-28. When Foy knocked down a long 3 from the left wing in the final seconds of the quarter, the Cougars led 40-38.
“They’re a confident group,” Mt. Blue coach Tom Philbrick said. “We believe that we can play with anybody in the state on any given night. We’ve got high goals, and we’re going to try to achieve them. We’re going to need some luck along the way, and maybe we had a little luck tonight, but that’s the name of the game.”
Foy and Miranda Nicely (16 points, 10 rebounds), who combined for 12 points in the first half, totaled 23 after the break. The Cougars led by as much as nine in the fourth quarter, as Buker played less than two of the final eight minutes. Skowhegan coach Heath Cowan explained that with the Indians using a full-court press for most of the quarter, they wanted a smaller, quicker lineup.
“We’re going to try her a little bit in that role as we go,” Cowan said. “She’s going to be one of our key players this year, but we wanted to take a little heat off her when we trying to get up and press. But I’ve got to do a little bit better job — we actually talked about that — trying to get her some more touches in the fourth quarter.”
Skowhegan trailed 53-48 with 42 seconds left, and had the ball after a Mt. Blue turnover. The Indians missed two chances to get within a basket.
Perhaps the difference for Skowhegan at this point is that Amanda Johnson took over the playoff game against Mt. Blue last season, and now she has graduated and Skowhegan doesn’t yet have a player with her quick-strike potential. But if this was a test of how the Indians would fare against one of the top teams in Eastern A, they certainly passed.
“I came here thinking we could play with them, and I leave here thinking we can play with them,” Cowan said. “If Mt. Blue’s one of the top teams, clearly Skowhegan is, too. That’s the way we’re going to approach every game.”
Matt DiFilippo — 861-9243