AUGUSTA — Tournament jitters certainly played a part in Waterville’s slow start Friday against Messalonskee in a Class A North girls basketball quarterfinal. So did Messalonskee junior Sophie Holmes.

Holmes scored 11 straight points in the first quarter on her way to a game-high 34 in leading the Eagles to comfortable 64-44 victory.

Next up for second-seeded Messalonskee (16-3) is a semifinal date against No. 3 Gardiner on Wednesday at the Augusta Civic Center. Seventh-seeded Waterville finishes its season 9-11.

With the teams tied a 2-all, Holmes scored 11 straight points, capped by a 3-pointer from the top of the circle to give the Eagles a 13-2 lead. She opened the fourth quarter with another 11-point run, this one punctuated with three shots from behind the arc. The 5-foot-8 guard drilled six 3s for the game, one shy of a regional record seven set by Lawrence’s Dawn Anne Higgins in 1991. Messalonskee coach Keith Derosby was told of the record after he had taken Holmes out of the game, so he put her back in during the closing two minutes for a chance at mark.

“I didn’t know (of the record),” Holmes said. “Coach said go back in and I said ‘are you serious?’ I went back in but I didn’t know until after.”

Holmes may be the best player in the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference not named Nia Irving and she has the all-around game to prove it. Friday she added five rebounds, a couple of blocks and averages about 20 (points) and 11 (rebounds) for a guard. “She’s special,” Derosby said.

Holmes had plenty of help. The defense, led by sophomore point guard Ally Turner, forced 22 Waterville turnovers, most of those in the first half. And junior forward McKenna Brodeur finished with 15 points.

“She’s improved leaps and bounds since her freshman year,” Derosby said of Brodeur. “She’s just an athlete. She translates a lot of her stuff from soccer onto the basketball floor. She just doesn’t stop.”

The Purple Panthers trailed 31-13 at the half and played much better over the final two quarters. Their press accounted for 13 Eagle turnovers in the second half and they were only outscored by three points.

“I think we were a little star-struck there,” Waterville coach Rob Rodrigue said. “Unless you’ve been in this environment, you don’t know what it’s about. We had a much better effort in the second half. That was more who we are as a team.”

The Purple Panthers got predictable efforts from senior Fotini Shanos (17 points) and junior Jordan Jabar (13) but were never able to sustain a run. Jabar hit a jumper from 18 feet at the third period buzzer to make it 46-27. But Holmes opened the fourth quarter with two free throws and a barrage of 3s to settle the outcome.

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