AUGUSTA — There were no early scuffles. No stumbles. No cold stretches early, mid-game or late, putting the Eagles’ fate into any semblance of doubt.

Instead, the Messalonskee girls basketball team’s appearance in the Class A state championship game at the Augusta Civic Center went the way of the season that led it to Saturday afternoon’s game at the Augusta Civic Center. It was nothing but Eagle dominance, from start to finish.

How do you finish a 22-0 season? Messalonskee 58, Brunswick 33 is a pretty fitting answer.

“It’s beyond words,” said guard Sophie Holmes, draped in one of the nets cut down following the Eagles’ victory. “That was just so important for us to get here. … Girls my whole high school career were like ‘We’re going to get one.’ Everything this year came together.”

“Words can’t describe it,” coach Keith Derosby said. “I’m just the guy at the end, I’m just here at the end with them. Everybody else has gotten us to this point. The girls do all the work. I’m proud of them, I’m proud of them like a dad is of any of his kids.”

While fans following Messalonskee this year may have seen this coming, the Eagles refused to entertain the notion. As one foe after another fell and the undefeated record grew, the Eagles narrowed their focus more and more. Forget KVAC championships, top seeds and undefeated records. Messalonskee focused on each game. Each opponent. Each quarter, even.


“That’s kind of what we’ve been doing. One game at a time, one quarter at a time,” Derosby said. “When you have that short-term mentality and that short-term goal, it’s much more attainable.”

It translated to Saturday’s contest with the A South champion Dragons (19-3). Never ones to buy into their status as favorites, the Eagles instead approached the game like they were playing in front of a legion of doubters.

“That’s our goal, to come out hard,” junior guard Ally Turner said. “Step on the gas and show them what we’re made of, and then we just never let up. We keep playing hard. We win every quarter, that’s our goal.”

The mentality paid off. The Eagles blitzed the Dragons by scoring 17 of the first 19 points, with Holmes finishing the charge with a 3-pointer, jumper and 3-pointer to make it 17-2 with 1:31 left in the first.

“We had to just calm our nerves,” said Holmes, who had a game-high 21 points. “Everybody took a deep breath and we said ‘Come out off the tip with a big jump. Try to score right off the bat. Take control of the game, take the pace of the game.’ ”

The Eagles had the Dragons pinned, and they didn’t let them up. When Brunswick cut the score to 17-9 early in the second, Messalonskee answered with a 10-0 run. The Dragons fought to a 29-13 score by halftime, but Derosby wasn’t about to let his team get complacent. Not after the Dragons had erased a 14-point second half deficit to beat Greely and earn the spot against Messalonskee in the first place.


“We knew they were going to make a run. That’s not a team that’s going to go quietly,” he said. “They’ve done it against tons of teams all season long. They’re never out of a game.”

The Dragons tried to prove Derosby right, with Sabrina Armstrong’s 3-pointer moving them within 33-18 with 4:23 left in the third, but Holmes buried a 3-pointer on the next series to kick-start a game-sealing run that made it 45-21 after three.

“She’s got a love for the game, and a love for competing,” Derosby said of Holmes, who had five rebounds and four steals to go with her scoring totals. “She competes in everything she does.”

The Messalonskee attack was hardly limited to the brilliant senior. Turner did a little bit of everything for the Eagles, scoring 12 points to go with eight rebounds and five assists. Senior center McKenna Brodeur had nine points, Makayla Wilson had five and freshman Gabrielle Wener scored only three points but brought in seven rebounds.

On defense, the Eagles’ pressure on the perimeter and ability to disrupt and alter shots inside flummoxed the Dragons. Brunswick shot 23 percent, and managed only four second-chance points despite pulling down 17 offensive rebounds. Armstrong had 13 points, Madeline Suhr scored 10 and Brooke Barter grabbed 11 rebounds, but there was too much work to do, too soon for the South champions.

“They were on fire tonight, we weren’t. That’s it,” Brunswick coach Sam Farrell said. “They made shots, made plays, we didn’t make shots. … I don’t know if it was nerves. Some nights you’re cold. It was a tough night to be cold.”


With the game out of hand late, Messalonskee began to pull its starters, who received hero’s welcomes from the frenzied Eagles fans. Brodeur came off in one wave of substitutions, Holmes in the next, and the normally laid-back Derosby played the part of the cheerleader, waving his arms to implore the fans to get louder. And when they answered, he did it again.

After a season of refusing to buy into their own hype, it was time to celebrate.

“It was more of just an outpouring of pride in the program, pride in the girls, pride in my staff,” he said. “All of the people who have been on this ride with us.”

“Not many people can say they’ve won a state championship, let alone be undefeated,” Turner said. “It feels really great. It’s an incredible accomplishment. We’re definitely going to look back on this in a few years and be really grateful.”

Drew Bonifant — 621-5638

Twitter: @dbonifantMTM

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