AUGUSTA — As Forest Hills showed Tuesday morning, the Tigers are capable of overpowering their opponents and turning the game into a layup drill. As Forest Hills showed Thursday morning, the Tigers can also beat you from outside.
Kori Coro scored 23 points and tied the tournament record with five 3-pointers, and Forest Hills set a new tourney record with 11 3-pointers as the Tigers knocked off No. 3 Pine Tree, 64-52, in a Western D girls basketball semifinal at the Augusta Civic Center.
“The first game we played them, they did hit some outside shots,” Pine Tree coach Josh Dayen said. “But they just set two records in the building. If they don’t shoot like that, I think the game is ours.
“Our game plan coming into this was to shut down anything inside. I think they only made two layups the whole game. Ninety percent of their buckets in any other game is always layups. They stepped up and showed that they’re a good team, because that’s not their only weapon.”
No. 1 Forest Hills improves to 20-0 and will face No. 2 Rangeley for the Western D title at 1:05 p.m., Saturday, at the Augusta Civic Center. For the game, Forest Hills made 11 3-pointers in 29 attempts.
“I felt very comfortable hitting the threes, and getting it out to my teammates,” Coro said. “We’re very accurate shooting it outside of the paint, and when we can, we take it in. We had no clue that we were close to a record. We just shot like our team would.”
It wasn’t easy for the Tigers, who defeated Pine Tree twice during the regular season. Pine Tree eighth-grader Alex Goodman scored 20 points, and since Forest Hills has no one taller than 5 foot 7, they had no one to match up size-wise with Pine Tree’s 6-1 Kim Emerson, who put in 18 points and grabbed 14 rebounds.
Forest Hills hit two 3-pointers in the first quarter, which ended with the Tigers on top 15-12. Keely Taylor (10 points) and Coro each drilled threes to push the Tigers’ lead to 21-12 early in the second quarter.
“I know we have a lot of kids that can shoot the three,” Forest Hills coach Mike LeBlanc said. “So I’m like, âSomebody’s gonna get hot.’ Kori usually doesn’t go very far without hitting a few.”
Dayen made some unconventional moves to keep the Breakers close. Forest Hills led 25-16 when Emerson was called for her third foul with 3:13 left in the first half, but Emerson stayed in and Pine Tree got the deficit down to 32-26 at halftime. Goodman, meanwhile, picked up her fourth foul with 4:59 to go in the third quarter, and played the rest of the way without another foul.
“Alex has the ability to read the refs,” Dayen said. “She can get three fouls early and figure out what she needs to do to be able to foul out, and still be able to play aggressively. Kimmy sometimes does get fouls, so that really was a little bit of a gamble, but we needed her in to give it a shot.”
Pine Tree indeed gave it a shot, getting as close as 39-37 before Forest Hills ended the third quarter with a 14-0 run. Coro, Dana McNally, and Anna Carrier were all scoring, and then the Tigers stalled to bring Pine Tree out of its zone. In the fourth quarter, the Breakers had to foul, and Haley Cuddy was 8 of 10 at the line for Forest Hills to finish with 13 points.
Forest Hills defeated Rangeley 60-54 on Jan. 17 in Rangeley. The Tigers will be trying for their first regional title since 1997.
“We need to play a much cleaner basketball game than we played today,” LeBlanc said. “I don’t think we played our best today. We have to come ready to play, because I know they’ve improved.”