The Hall-Dale girls basketball team is back in the Class C state championship game after beating Waynflete 43-36 Saturday night. The top-seeded Bulldogs (18-3) will play Central in the state final Saturday at the Augusta Civic Center.

So, as the defending state champs, did the Western C championship Saturday bring excitement or relief?

“I say exciting,” Hall-Dale coach Brandon Terrill said.

Still, Terrill acknowledged, it’s been a different season for the Bulldogs.

“This whole season was a little harder,” he said. “We had to work a lot harder for everything this year.”

Carylanne Wolfington scored a team-high 16 points for the Bulldogs on Saturday.

She said that while the tournament still brings some anxious moments, last season’s postseason run has helped alleviate some of the nerves.

“We still get nervous, but we are also comfortable,” she said. “We’ve been through this before.”

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While the Gardiner boys are heading to their first state championship game, the Gardiner girls also had one of the best seasons in school history. The Tigers finished 17-4, losing to eventual Eastern B champion Presque Isle, 63-44, in the semifinals. Just two years ago, the Tigers were 5-13 and missed out on the playoffs entirely.

“The progress these girls have made the last few years is unbelievable,” Gardiner coach Mike Gray said. “We went from not even contending to being a playoff team, to we made it here and we won a game here. For years, we weren’t in the mix. These last few years have been great.”

The Tigers graduate starters Katie McAllister, Jenna Moore and Paige Pilsbury, as well as key reserve Hillary Owen.

“We’ve got a great senior class, and it’s going to be tough to replace those girls,” Gray said. “But we’ve got a lot coming back, and it’s not like it’s back to square one. We’ll take a step back and adjust, and the goal is, we’re going to get back (to Bangor) next year.”

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