AUGUSTA — For a basketball team without a player standing taller than 5-foot-6, Forest Hills has come along way this season.
Tuesday morning, the Tigers used their speed and passing ability to defeat Greater Portland Christian, 48-34, in the quarterfinal round of the Western Maine Class D girls tournament. The fourth-seeded Tigers (16-3) face No. 1 Rangeley in a semifinal game Thursday morning at the Augusta Civic Center while No. 5 Portland Christian finishes at 12-6.
The Tigers never put the game away until a 7-0 run late in the fourth quarter but held the lead throughout. They dominated the first half, forcing 21 GPC turnovers, mostly off their zone press, and closed the second quarter with a 10-0 run to take a 27-13 lead at the break. But the Lions climbed back into the game with a 9-0 run in the third quarter.
“It wasn’t pretty but we took advantage of their foul trouble and just kept pressing,” Forest Hills coach Mike LeBlanc said. “It wasn’t pretty but you’ve got to win one ugly one.”
Jocelyn Hoyt led the Tigers with 19 points while Anna Carrier added 11. Both juniors were the recipient of several passes for easy layups from point guard Dana McNally.
“We wanted to attack the basket as much as possible,” said McNally who finished with seven points and six assists. “Getting my teammates (the ball) has opened a lot more (opportunities).”
The Lions settled down in the third quarter as senior Elaine Beech assisted on five of their seven baskets. When she banked home a shot late in the quarter, GPC suddenly had cut the lead to five points, 33-28. McNally restored the lead to nine with back-to-back penetrating assists to Hoyt and Carrier.
“She has been probably the key to us all year,” LeBlanc said of McNally. “When she’s able to control the game and take things over we’ll be fine. “
The Lions cut the lead to eight (41-33) after a couple of hoops from Clarissa Jones (12 points), but foul trouble caught up to them as both Jones and Beech (six points, 15 rebounds) fouled out.
“Their speed just killed us,” GPC coach Keith Dawson said. “When they forced us to go man-to-man we just couldn’t stay with them.”
The Tigers’ speed also earned them 37 free throws. They made just 17 of those it proved a big advantage as the Lions shot just 4 of 14 from the line. Haley Cuddy added six points for the Tigers and Keely Taylor five as the starters accounted for all of their scoring.
Gary Hawkins — 621-5638