BANGOR — With Bri Skolfield, Amber Anderson and Julia Annis, Foxcroft’s strength is rebounding. On Saturday afternoon, there wasn’t a lot Waterville could have done about that save for importing some taller players.
Skolfield finished with 13 points and 14 rebounds, and the Ponies used their height advantage to post a 33-25 victory over 13th-seeded Waterville in an Eastern B girls basketball quarterfinal at the Cross Insurance Center.
Anderson added eight rebounds and Annis had five. Foxcroft, the fifth seed, finished with a 36-20 edge on the boards.
“We’re just not big,” Waterville coach Rob Rodrigue said. “We thought if Skolfield got inside, we were going to have to double up. So we’d sag off a bit. Their reverses caught us off our spots on rebounding.”
“We did a very good job controlling both ends on the boards, offensively and defensively,” Foxcroft coach Blake Smith said. “Most of the time, we kept them to one shot.”
Waterville (11-9) was in it for most of the game. The Purple Panthers were down 4-3 in the first quarter when they pressed some strategy buttons. Waterville held the ball for more than three minutes, making no effort to score while Foxcroft made no effort to come out of its zone.
“I thought we had a little bit of an advantage if they were in a man-to-man situation,” Rodrigue said. “We didn’t like their look out of that zone. We thought if we kept it in the 30s, we’d have a chance. We just didn’t have the size to match up with them.”
“They definitely controlled the tempo,” Smith said. “That was the kind of game that they like to play, and we were lucky to come out of it.”
Once that standoff was over, the Purple Panthers tried to run and push the ball. But neither team was hitting in the first half, and Foxcroft (13-7) led 10-7 at the break.
The Ponies were especially adept at cutting off dribble penetration by Waterville point guard Colleen O’Donnell (seven points, seven rebounds). When O’Donnell started to drive, the Ponies usually collapsed and threw up a roadblock before she could get within 10 feet of the basket.
“That was a big focus we’ve had the last couple practices,” Smith said. “Julia Annis is very, very athletic. We started out, we wanted to play the zone, stretch a little lead, and then let them hang onto it if they wanted. The girls really wanted to play, so we said, âWe’ll just match up.’ I thought Julia did a very good job containing O’Donnell. O’Donnell’s very explosive off the dribble, and I didn’t think we gave her many good looks.”
Foxcroft stopped shooting 3-pointers and dominated on the offensive boards in the second half, and only 3-pointers by O’Donnell and Jordan Jabar kept Waterville within 21-15 at the end of the third quarter. The Panthers got as close as 23-20 early in the fourth on two baskets by Hannah Allen (eight points), but Foxcroft responded with a 6-0 run, and in a game played at this pace, that was enough.
As Rodrigue said after the Panthers defeated Winslow in the preliminary round, Waterville didn’t even expect to be at this point. After all, the Panthers were 4-14 only one year ago.
“You gotta give it to these kids — they fight for you,” Rodrigue said. “They go down swinging. We’re very happy with our season. Obviously, we’d like to be playing one more, but that wasn’t in the cards tonight.”