AUGUSTA — Throughout the Class C South tournament the Madison girls basketball team has made its mark at the defensive end of the court.

As the Bulldogs found out Saturday night, so has Boothbay.

The Seahawks employed a stifling, 3-2 zone defense to perfection as Boothbay captured the Class C South championship with a 40-24 victory at the Augusta Civic Center.

“Their pressure outside took us out of our shots and I think that bothered us a little bit,” Madison coach Al Veneziano said. “The kids played hard and they’re obviously a very tough team — even as young as they are.”

Page Brown — who was later named the tournament’s most valuable player — paced the Seahawks at the offensive end with 19 points and nine rebounds while Kate Friant added 14 points.

Kayla Bess and Sydney LeBlanc each had five points for Madison, while Erin Whalen pulled down 11 rebounds.

“We were conscious of trying to contain Kayla Bess and Madeline Wood — two great shooters,” Boothbay coach Tanner Grover said. “Offensively, we had some pretty careless turnovers that cost us a few points, but I think in the third quarter we finally settled in and found our stride and played with some nice offensive rhythm.”

Boothbay kept the Bulldogs in check from the opening tip Saturday night. The Bulldogs started the game 0 for 6 from the floor before Ashley Emery finally got Madison on the board with a bucket with 1:56 to play in the opening quarter.

Madison hung around throughout the first half thanks to its own defense, though, as Boothbay led just 6-4 after the first quarter and 13-6 at the half. The two teams combined to shoot 8 of 37 from the field in the opening half.

Even though the Seahawks struggled to put the ball in the basket in the first half, Brown said the team still felt fairly free of pressure thanks to their effort on the defensive end.

“We were definitely doing something right and it just helped us settle in,” Brown said. “We realized that we do have control of the game and it just helped us relax a little bit.”

In the second half the Seahawks — and Brown, specifically — began to find their shooting touch. Boothbay went on a 10-1 run between the end of the third quarter and start of the fourth to open up a 27-12 and pull away for good.

Madison made a number of adjustments on offense throughout the contest but each was to no avail. After four straight points midway through the second quarter Veneziano called a timeout to implement the Bulldogs’ set offense further away from the basket.

Later in the quarter Madison looked to get the ball more to Erin Whalen in the high post. While she did get a basket with 48.4 seconds left in the second, it proved to be Madison’s only points of the second and came after the Bulldogs started the quarter 0 for 11 from the floor.

Out of halftime Madison tried to set high screens around the top of the key to get open looks for Bess and Madeline Wood, yet once again Boothbay’s defense was just too tough.

“We were trying to get some motion happening and they defended it very well,” Veneziano said. “They’re a very good team.”

While freshman standout Faith Blethen was limited to just three points, she was a game-changer defensively for the Seahawks. Standing 6-foot-1 with a matching long wingspan, Boothbay positioned Blethen — who had a game-high 12 rebounds — atop the 3-2 zone and the freshman was an effective deterrent to Madison’s outside shooting. The Bulldogs connected on just 2 of 16 attempts from outside and shot 10 of 41 for the contest.

“It’s been a game-changer for us and she’s gotten better at it as the season has progressed,” Grover said. “Initially, her tendency was to come way far out and (we had) to get her to stay in her area and play disciplined, and when she does that she takes up so much space with her length. A lot of times she’s able to guard two people at once pretty easily.”

Boothbay will next face Narraguagas for the Class C championship. The Knights defeated Penobscot 45-18 for the Class C North title on Saturday.

Evan Crawley — 621-5640

[email protected]

Twitter: @Evan_Crawley

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