AUGUSTA — Madison had handled Mt. Abram twice already this season, and it was clear early Tuesday afternoon that this was a different Mt. Abram team.
But while the Roadrunners were clearly improved, Madison still has a deep well of players to turn to for the big shot. This time, it was junior guard Cristie Vicneire, whose clutch shooting in the third quarter spiked Mt. Abram’s rally and enabled the Bulldogs to hold on for a 50-42 victory in a Western C quarterfinal at the Augusta Civic Center.
“When she gets a good look at the basket, she’s a good shooter, and she came up big,” Madison coach Al Veneziano said. “I was very pleased with her effort tonight.”
No. 2 Madison (16-3) takes on No. 3 Old Orchard Beach in the semifinals at 2:30 p.m., Thursday, at the Civic Center. Mt. Abram, the No. 7 seed, finishes at 10-10. It was the last game for Roadrunners coach Doug Lisherness, who won two state titles at the Salem Township school.
Each team shot six for 29 from the field in the first half, but Madison held a 22-17 lead because of Mt. Abram’s foul trouble.
“We missed some bunnies there in that first half, and (were) fouling way too much,” Lisherness said. “We did better on our defense in the second half, as far as not fouling goes.”
Vicneire led Madison with seven points in the first half, and continued to shoot well after the break. Madison’s Sam Bruce (10 points) and Kirsten Wood (12) picked up teh scoring in the fourth quarter.
“I think you’ve come this far, you’ve got to just keep putting the ball up,” Veneziano said. “We tried to do a little bit more driving and dishing the ball, and tried to get a little bit more involved. We looked at ball movement, and getting good shots. I thought we got pretty decent shots the whole time.”
Mt. Abram ran off seven straight points to start the second half, and Miranda Smith had nine of her game-high 18 points in the third quarter. But two calls on Smith didn’t sit well with Lisherness or the Mt. Abram fans.
Late in the third quarter, Smith dribbled and banked in a shot on the run that would have given the Roadrunners a 30-29 lead. The whistle blew after contact, but it was because Smith was called for traveling. A few seconds later, Vicneire drained a 3-pointer, and Madison led by four points.
“The referee who was not in position made the call,” Lisherness said. “David Gray’s standing right here on Miranda’s call, and the referee way out back called her for traveling.”
With 6:45 left in the game, Smith was whistled for her fourth foul while jockeying for position in the post. Lisherness disagreed with this call as well, and not only did Madison run off four straight points to take a 39-32, but the Bulldogs smartly took full advantage of the situation. Wood, especially, drove the lane and scored inside while Smith had to avoid contact.
Madison led 41-40, then got some space at 45-40 when Veneziano called timeout with 2:03 left. The Bulldogs played keep-away and made five of six from the line to seal the win.
“Madison’s a well-balanced team, a well-coached team, and someone’s going to have to put in a good game to beat them,” Lisherness said. “We put in a good game, but I guess not quite good enough.”
Matt DiFilippo — 861-9243