AUGUSTA — As improbable comebacks go, Skowhegan’s overtime win against Mt. Blue in the opening round of the Eastern Maine Class A girls tournament Friday tops the list.

Trailing by 17 points at halftime, the Indians fought their way back into the game behind some inspired defense and the offense of senior Amanda Johnson, who scored a game-high 27 points.

Johnson set up the game-winning score when she penetrated into the lane and dropped the ball off to Chelsea Whittemore for a layup with 2.9 seconds left in overtime that gave the Indians a 56-55 victory.

“We’ve always had trouble with our layups,” Johnson said. “We’re always practicing them over and over again and we always say if we don’t get the first one we’ll get the next one. We got the layup that counted and it was perfect.”

The No. 6 Indians (12-7) advance to Wednesday’s semifinal round at the Augusta Civic Center where they’ll take on No. 2 Edward Little. Third-seeded Mt. Blue finishes at 12-7.

The Indians looked dead in the water after the Cougars outscored them 13-0 in the second quarter to take a 29-12 halftime lead. But a different team emerged from the locker room for the third quarter.

“It was more of an attitude adjustment,” Skowhegan coach Heath Cowan said. “The kids came out in the second half and played aggressive. They were playing to win the game.”

Despite Johnson’s heroics, she didn’t have to carry the entire load in the second half as she did in the first. Adrianna Martineau (11 points, eight rebounds) opened the third quarter with a three-point play. The momentum changed as the Indians played aggressive in-your-face defense and forced 10 Mt. Blue turnovers in the third quarter.

“They’re a great team,” Mt. Blue coach Tom Philbrick said. “We didn’t do anything different. I thought their aggressiveness stepped it up. You’ve got to take your hat off to them. We didn’t give them anything. We battled back and battled back.”

The Indians took their first lead since the opening moments of the game when Whittemore converted a three-point play early in the fourth quarter to make it 35-34. From there, the lead changed hands four times. The Cougars stayed close by making 11 of 12 free throws in the fourth quarter, including five by Amy Hilton.

Mt. Blue took a 45-41 lead when Hilton hit a driving layup, but the Indians got a pair of free throws from both Taylor Johnson and Natasha Thompson to tie the game again. Gabby Foy hit a pair of free throws and Martineau cashed a rebound to complete the scoring in regulation. Both teams had chances to win it but turned the ball over in the final six seconds.

The overtime session followed the same pattern, Foy (17 points), who hit three 3-poiners in the first half, nailed two in overtime, the second giving the Cougars a 55-54 lead. To that point, the Mt. Blue junior had been held in check over the second half.

“We didn’t close out on Foy the way we would have liked to,” Cowan said. “I think more of that was a little fatigue.”

Mt. Blue’s Miranda Nicely finished with 12 points, 10 in the first half, while Hilton scored nine points and Jaycee Mullen grabbed seven rebounds.

“I’m really proud of our kids,” Cowan said. “You’ve also got to take your hat off to Mt. Blue. After last season to come in here and play the way they did — I think they won four games last season — they should be proud of their kids. Our kids came out today and we happened to make one more basket.”

Gary Hawkins — 621-5638

[email protected]

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