Washburn will be chasing history while Rangeley will be seeking perfection when the unbeaten teams meet for the Class D state title at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor on Saturday (1:05 p.m. tipoff).

The Beavers (21-0) are seeking an unprecedented fifth consecutive Class D state title, Currently, they are one of five girls’ teams with four championships in a row, along with McAuley (2011-14), Lawrence (1991-94), Westbrook and Gorham (both 1978-81).

Washburn coach Diana Trams said the only pressure on her team is the pressure her players put on themselves.

“The girls are well aware of (the chance to make history),” Trams said. “But this week in practice, things seem to be pretty light. They expect a lot of themselves, and they want to have a good showing on Saturday.”

Of course, pressure is the Beavers’ calling card. Their smothering, trapping defense has been one of the pillars of their success the last five years.

Rangeley coach Heidi Deery, who led the Lakers to three Western D titles in four years 2001-04 and a state title in 2004, has one of her most dominant teams yet. The Lakers (20-0) rolled through the East-West Conference this season with an average margin of victory of 45 points. But Washburn presents a new challenge because it likes to press and run, and has the speed and athletes to overwhelm opponents while doing it.

The game would appear to be a clash of styles, and the Lakers will try to control tempo, Deery said. But that doesn’t mean they’ll be looking to slow the game down at every opportunity.

“In some ways (slowing it down) could work for us, but we’ve got to go with what has gotten us there, too,” she said. “We need to go to our strengths.”

Among those strengths are the Lakers’ twin towers, 6-foot-1 senior forward Taylor Esty and 6-foot-2 junior forward Blayke Morin. Esty, the Western D tournament MVP, averaged 17 points per game during the regular season and 14 ppg during the tournament, while Morin averaged 12 points during the season and seven in the tournament. Both are strong inside players, although Esty can slash and shoot from the outside.

“I don’t think they have an inside game that can contend with ours,” Deery said.

Trams said her team might have been the smallest in the Eastern Maine tournament, and the closest thing it faced to a team with Rangeley’s size was its quarterfinal opponent. Penobscot Valley featured a 6-foot center and 5-foot-11 point guard, but still couldn’t handle Washburn’s pressure and fell, 61-36.

If the Beavers get too preoccupied with stopping the inside game, Deery is confident guards Seve Deery-DeRaps, Natasha Haley and Maddison Egan will make them pay.

“I think our first five are certainly all offensive threats,” she said. “If they focus on Blayke and Taylor, then Seve and Maddison and Natasha are going to be able to hold up their end, too.”

Deery-DeRaps is a threat to score from the perimeter or take it to the hoop and will be critical against Washburn’s pressure.

“They take advantage of other teams’ mistakes,” Deery said. “We’ve got to stick to our gameplan, do what what can do and what we can do well knowing that there’s going to be a lot of pressure there and they’re going to make a lot of runs.”

Washburn relies on its pressure creating a lot of turnovers and opportunities to score in transition to go on those runs. The Beavers are aggressive to the basket, but also have some shooters who can spot-up and hit the 3-pointer.

“We’ve been fortunate that we’ve had players to do that. We have a lot of quickness,” Trams said. “The halfcourt game is not our strength because we really haven’t had to do that.”

Washburn did have to replace three starters from last year’s Gold Ball-winning team, including Carmen Bragg, who went on to play at UMaine-Augusta. But they have three scorers capable of going off on amy given night.

Junior guard Emmy Churchill stepped up her game to average 12 ppg during the tournament and is one of their leading three-point shooters, having converted three during their 58-44 regional final win over Fort Fairfield. Senior forward Joan Overman averaged 15.3 points during the tournament, including 23 against Fort Fairfield, and is the Beavers’ shutdown defender.

But the big gun is 5-foot-5 senior guard Mackenzie Worcester, who averaged 23.3 points during the tournament and 27 points during the season. The Miss Maine Basketball semifinalist has been the focal point of the Beavers’ offense the last four years.

“Obviously, she’s one of the best players in the state,” Deery said. “You don’t find too many kids who scored their 1,000th career point as a sophomore.”

Trams, an Ashland native who spent many childhood summers in the Rangeley area at a summer camp her parents worked for, thinks one team will have to impose its will Saturday to win a state championship,

“It’s going to be a matter of who shows up ready to play, whether or not we can dicatate the style of game and if our defensive pressure is effective,” she said.

Randy Whitehouse — 621-5638

[email protected]

Twitter: @RAWmaterial33


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