AUGUSTA — It took fourth-seeded Old Orchard Beach more than a period to find its shooting eyes during Wednesday morning’s Western Maine Class C quarterfinal against Madison. And by then it was too late.
The Seagulls never fully recovered from a scoreless first quarter as the No. 5 Bulldogs led from start to finish in a 51-43 win. Madison (14-6) advances to play St, Dominic or Dirigo in the semifinal round this afternoon at the Augusta Civic Center while Old Orchard finishes at 14-6.
There wasn’t much to chose between these two teams who played to a 43-all tie over the final three quarters, but the Seagulls hurt themselves in two areas. First, they shot just 3 of 31 from the floor in the first half in which they trailed 8-0 after one quarter and 24-11 at intermission. Second, they made just 11 of 25 free throws. The 8:30 start was a result of Tuesday night’s snowstorm which pushed the game ahead a day.
“We met at the school about quarter to six and left for here about 6:15,” Old Orchard coach Dean Plante said. “We got here about quarter to eight. No excuses, they had to get up early, too.”
The Bulldogs shot just 4 of 16 in the first quarter but did get three hoops from Kirsten Wood who finished with a team-high 10 points. As has been the case all season several players contributed to the offense for Madison.
“We lost Bronte Elias (knee injury) who was a double-digit scorer,” Madison coach Al Veneziano said. “Over the course of the season we’ve had to develop them into thinking they could score. It’s been very balanced.”
Aly LeBlanc opened the second quarter with five straight points and Erin Whalen closed it with six for the Bulldogs. The Seagulls broke the scoring ice just under 10 minutes into the game when Mackenzie Rague hit a 3-pointer from the top of the circle. Abby Dubois heated up for the Gulls and scored eight points of her game-high 15 points in the quarter.
“We expected a lot from Abby Dubois,” Madison senior Cristie Vicneire said. “We knew that she was their key scorer and we had to stop her. I think we did a pretty good job at that.”
The Bulldogs looked to put the game away in the third quarter. Madeline Wood hit a jumper from the right side to push the lead to 33-16, but the Seagulls keep plugging away with full-court pressure and it eventually yielded some results.
“I thought we handled the pressure very well,” Veneziano said. “They’re going to make some steals. They’re going to pressure you into making turnovers but I thought we held our composure very well.
The Gulls put together a 12-1 run midway through the quarter that included back-to-back 3s from Haley Plante and Kelsey Custeau and suddenly Madison’s lead was five, 34-29. The Bulldogs recovered quickly, though, getting three straight hoops, two from Emily Oliver, off their flex offense.
“We try to run offense during the regular season,” Veneziano said. “We you get to tournament games you have to do that. When you break people down it makes it easier.”