FARMINGTON — Eryn Doiron made the steal. Emily Knowles caught one pass, then made another. Miranda Nicely made the layup, then the free throw.
In the span of a few seconds, three members of the Mt. Blue High School girls basketball team touched the ball, and that ensured all the Cougars had a victory to celebrate.
The play gave Mt. Blue a 39-37 lead with 47.7 seconds left in Tuesday’s Eastern Class A preliminary round game, and the Cougars held off Lewiston to win by that score.
The No. 8 seed, Mt. Blue (9-10) will face No.1 Edward Little (17-1) at 8:30 p.m. Friday at the Augusta Civic Center. No. 9 Lewiston ends the season at 5-14.
The Cougars trailed, 37-34, with one minute to go, when Nicely made two free throws to cut the deficit to 37-36 with 51.8 seconds to play.
Doiron stole the ball on the ensuing inbounds play, and while fighting to stay in bounds, she tossed a pass to what she hoped was a teammate.
“I caught (the ball), and I threw it, and I was just like, please someone catch this. And they did. And my team pulled it off,” Doiron, who had five steals, said. “I saw Kiana (Thompson), but it didn’t quite get to her. But Emily (Knowles) showed up, and those big hands of hers, her long arms, phew! Snatched it right down.”
Knowles passed the ball to an open Nicely underneath the basket, who scored and was fouled. She sank the foul shot, giving the Cougars their first lead since midway through the quarter. Before taking her foul shot, Nicely reminded herslef the free throw was just like practice.
“That’s what I was thinking, just like practice, and we needed to hit it,” Nicely, who scored 20 points, said.
Added Mt. Blue coach Tom Philbrook: “Miranda’s Miranda. She stepped up and put us on her shoulders.”
Lewiston’s Kristina Blais missed a 3-pointer with 20 seconds left and, after Knowles missed two foul shots with 16.1 seconds left, the Blue Devils had one final chance. Mt. Blue applied pressure the length of the court, and after taking six seconds to get to midcourt, the Blue Devils couldn’t get a good shot off, and Mt. Blue celebrated.
Doiron’s steal was the Cougars’ 17th of the game.
“Our defense was tough,” Philbrook said. “We didn’t put the ball in the hole and we’ve been struggling with that.”
The Cougars went almost six minutes in the fourth quarter without a field goal and that helped Lewiston turn a 30-24 deficit into a 34-31 lead. Brie Wilson scored nine of her game-high 22 points in the fourth for the Blue Devils, and her free throws with 3:00 to play gave Lewiston its first lead since early in the third quarter.
“The girls kept grinding away. They pretty much left everything out on the floor, so they don’t have anything to be ashamed of,” Lewiston coach Mike Labonte said. “(Mt. Blue) made one or two more plays than we did.”
The teams combined for 24 turnovers in a sloppy first half, and Mt. Blue led at the break 14-13.
Doiron scored six points and grabbed six rebounds for the Cougars. Jessica Talerico scored seven points for Lewiston.