AUGUSTA — Monmouth Academy junior Tia Day took 10 foul shots in the fourth quarter of a Class C South girls basketball semifinal Thursday against Boothbay. Day made nine of them. Nerves? What are nerves?

“I’ve done so many free throws, I wasn’t too nervous,” Day said.

Led by Day, the Mustangs made 14 of 16 free throws in the fourth quarter, 18 of 22 for the game, and those were the difference in a 39-30 victory over the No. 2 Seahawks at the Augusta Civic Center.

Monmouth (17-3) will face either No. 4 Old Orchard Beach or No. 1 Richmond in the regional final Saturday. Boothbay ends the season 17-2, with both losses coming to Monmouth.

Day scored a game-high 20 points, including six free throws in the final minute to secure the win.

“It’s the fifth time we’ve played them in two years, essentially the same kids on both teams. We knew what we had to face,” Monmouth coach Scott Wing said. “Size doesn’t matter when you have it in your gut and your heart.”

The Mustangs had trouble keeping Boothbay’s tall front line of 5-foot-11 Page Brown, 6-1 Faith Blethen, and 5-11 Nicole Clarke off the boards for most of the game. Brown grabbed 11 of the Seahawks’ 20 offensive rebounds, but Boothbay shot poorly and failed to convert many of those second chances into points.

“The ball just didn’t drop for us. We had plenty of chances on the offensive glass, they just didn’t go down. It happens,” Boothbay coach Tanner Grover said.

Monmouth led by as many as seven points in the second quarter and led 19-14 at the half, largely because of Day’s long-range touch. Day hit three 3-pointers in the first half, including one from 25 feet. Day said she didn’t get off to a good start in Monmouth’s quarterfinal win over Waynflete and wanted to change that against the Seahawks.

“I definitely knew I needed to come out and shoot some more. I didn’t really shoot that many (against) Waynflete. I’ve been working on getting better range, so I was pretty confident shooting today,” Day said.

Boothbay came out in the second half and played a box-and-one defense, and for a time that stiffled the Mustangs. Boothbay scored the first six points of the second half, taking a 20-19 lead. Monmouth didn’t make a field goal until an Abby Ferland basket with 2:34 left in the quarter. The defensive move kept all of Day’s second half scoring on the foul line. To counter the box-and-one, Wing said the Mustangs relied on screens to open up shooters.

“Without ball screens, we weren’t getting much action. Without ball screens, also, we weren’t getting anything to the basket. Everyone was staying out on the perimeter,” Day said.

“To Monmouth’s credit, though, they’re a well-balanced team. They’ve got other kids who put the ball in the hoop,” Grover added. “I’m sure they’ve gone against a combination of defenses before. It’s nothing they haven’t prepared for. Maybe my only regret is not trying it in the second quarter when (Day) was really hot.”

Boothbay led 25-23 entering the fourth quarter. The Mustangs took the lead for good, 28-27, when Kaeti Butterfield made a pair of free throws with 3:58 left. Butterfield had five rebounds, four in the fourth quarter.

Brown led Boothbay with 12 points, while Blethen and Clarke each scored eight.

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM

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