AUGUSTA — Jessica Conant was Dirigo’s leading scorer when the Cougars beat Monmouth in the quarterfinals. On Friday afternoon against Madison, Dirigo had a 12-point lead in the second quarter before Conant scored a point.

But that’s the thing with Dirigo: The weapons just keep coming. When Kelsey Hutchins was in foul trouble in the second and third quarters, Conant was the one scoring, and she finished with a game-high 17 points as the third-seeded Cougars advanced with a 58-44 victory in a Western C semifinal at the Augusta Civic Center.

“We’ve actually dealt with things like that this whole year,” Dirigo coach Karen Magnusson said. “We played Madison — Jess was in foul trouble and was out. We played Monmouth, and Emma (Lueders) wasn’t playing as well because she wasn’t feeling well. We talk about stepping up. We always try to game plan, if we have one person out, then we’re still going to execute. We still know what we’re supposed to do.”

Dirigo was primed to play Boothbay, a team that defeated the Cougars twice this winter. But when 10th-seeded Madison knocked off Boothbay at the buzzer in the quarterfinals, the revenge angle was gone.

“We kind of wanted to play Boothbay,” Conant said. “Since we lost to them, we really wanted to get back at them. Seeing Madison beat them, it kind of shocked us a little bit so we just worked on what they do and focused on that.”

The first five minutes dictated the rest of the afternoon. Hutchins scored and then Lueders hit a three. By the time Rachel Knight came off the bench and drained a 3-pointer of her own, Dirigo led 12-0. It was 16-5 after one quarter and Madison couldn’t get closer than seven points the rest of the game.


“We just had a great talk in the locker room,” Conant said. “Oh my gosh, we were just so excited — knowing what’s coming (Saturday), and this is my last year. We just had to put it all out there.”

Madison patiently fought back, and shot seven for 10 as a team in the second quarter. Things looked even better when Hutchins picked up her second foul with 5:48 to go in the quarter and sat down for the rest of the half.

But Conant scored nine points in the second quarter alone, and Dirigo was running its offense so effectively that it seemed every shot was a high-percentage one. At halftime, the Cougars were shooting 50 percent as a team and still led by 11 at 32-21.

That level of offensive production was especially important against the Bulldogs. Madison was 11-3 this season when the opponents scored under 50 points, but 0-7 when the opposition was over 50.

“I think that’s a season worth of offense, I really do,” Magnusson said. “You start in the beginning of the year, you don’t have anything in. You just progress to the end where we have a lot of different things we like to look at. We have different things for everything, and at this point, they know them. We were just calling things, and they were just doing them great.”

Madison continued to play strongly in the third quarter, but Dirigo had the ability to grab the momentum back, and do it quickly. In the third quarter, the Bulldogs closed to within 36-29 on a runner by Emily Oliver. At the other end of the floor, Conant converted a three-point play. Early in the fourth quarter, Madison battled back and made it 40-33 when Sydney LeBlanc hit Aly LeBlanc for a layup. Again, Dirigo responded with a three-point play, this time by Hutchins.


“You gotta make a stop, and you gotta get a score,” Madison coach Al Veneziano said. “We did that in certain times, and we didn’t do it quite enough, I guess.”

Madison junior Erin Whalen scored 15 points, hauled down 14 rebounds, and had one of the best games of her career. Hutchins had 15 points for Dirigo. But for all the individual numbers, the game came down to this: Dirigo was up 12-0 after four-plus minutes, and won by 14.

“We got into a little bit of hole early,” Veneziano said. “We didn’t stop playing, though. I’m really pleased with that. Second and third quarter, I thought we played pretty well. I think, defensively, we had to hold them under 50 points for us to be able to win, and we just didn’t do that.”

Matt DiFilippo — 861-9243

[email protected]

Twitter: @Matt_DiFilippo

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