WINSLOW — In the quarterfinals and semis of the Class B North girls basketball tournament, Winslow allowed a combined 60 points. Presque Isle senior Emily Wheaton scored 71 points in the Wildcats’ wins in those two rounds. So something has to give when the immovable object that is the Black Raiders’ defense meets the unstoppable force wearing the No. 14 jersey for Presque Isle on Saturday afternoon in the regional championship.

No. 6 Winslow (16-5) will face No. 5 Presque Isle (15-5) for the regional crown Saturday at 2:05 p.m. at Bangor’s Cross Center. The winner will be back at the Cross Center next Friday night for the Class B state championship game. All season long, the Black Raiders have won by being a defense-first team, and if they’re going to advance Saturday, they know it will take their best effort of the season.

“We try to keep teams 40 or below. This sounds so crazy, but we’re trying to keep Wheaton to 20 or below,” Winslow coach Lindsey Withee said.

In the regular season, Winslow allowed an average of just 36 points per game. In three playoff games, including a preliminary round win over Orono, the Black Raiders have allowed just over 32 points per game against presumable stronger offensive teams. Off the top of her head, Withee couldn’t recall the last time her team allowed more than 50 points, but it happens so infrequently Withee’s memory lapse can be forgiven. The Black Raiders gave up at least 50 points just three times in the regular season, the last coming Jan. 30 in a 51-39 loss to Class A Skowhegan.

Defense is as much attitude as execution, and the Black Raiders have excelled at both parts.

“It’s a one v. one thing. Don’t let them score,” senior guard Sarah Guimond said after Friday morning’s practice.


Withee said it didn’t take long for the Black Raiders to take on the defense-first mindset, and the team’s tenacity is a strength.

“You can really see it in their eyes now. We really do work on it a lot in practice. It’s easy to have fun when you’re shooting, you’re scoring, but it’s just different. They really bought in and continue buying in, day in, day out,” Withee said. “With our fullcourt pressure, you could see it start developing. You know, we’ve been working on it for years. So veteran players, this is nothing new. For the newer players, there was something new, and they bought in. Bodhi Littlefield (a key freshman off the bench), always asking a lot of questions and trying to learn it from a different perspective.”

In Winslow’s 55-34 quarterfinal win over No. 2 Mt. Desert Island, the Black Raiders held the Trojans 17 points under their regular season average. Against No. 2 John Bapst in Wednesday’s 39-26 semifinal win, Winslow was even better. The Crusaders averaged 50 points in the regular season. Held to 10 points in the first half, Bapst barely managed to reach half its average. The key was containing the Crusaders double threat of Grace Phillipon in the low post and Crystal Bell on the perimeter. With Phillipon, the plan was to keep her outside the paint. The most part, Winslow was successful. Phillipon scored four points in the first quarter, made a pair of free throws in the third with Winslow ahead by 17 points, and added four more points late in the fourth when the game was well in hand.

With Bell, Winslow’s plan was simple. Stay on her. The Black Raiders played no help side defense with Bell. That meant even if Bell didn’t have the ball, the Black Raider whose job it was to defend her had to stay closer to Bell than her own shadow. This ran counter to everything Winslow did all season, and took some getting used to.

“That was one of the things we had to keep in mind, because we stressed all season we need to have help side,” Maeghan Bernard, one of the Winslow defenders assigned to guard Bell, said. “Once in a while I’d catch myself playing off her more than I was supposed to, and I was like, ‘Shoot!'”

Added Withee: “That was really hard. When we’d practice it, (Bernard) would get on help side, and we’d be like, ‘No, Maeghan. No help side. No help side.’ Again practice (for) Wheaton, we said there is definitely no hep side here. They’re very coachable, and they have an open mind.”


Bell scored just four points, all in the second half, and didn’t make a 3-pointer. Against Wheaton, who scored 36 points in Presque Isle’s 58-53 overtime win over Maine Central Institute and 35 in the Wildcats’ 55-52 upset of top-seed Hermon on Wednesday, Bernard, Guimond, and Bodhi Littlefield will likely rotate defending Wheaton.

“We’ve got to keep her in front of us,” Guimond said.

Winslow’s plan will be similar to how it defended Bell. A Miss Maine Basketball semifinalist, Wheaton’s speed off the dribble makes that difficult.

“The hesitation, changing speeds, changing direction. Just really having that eye contact with the hoop. When she changes that speed and direction, she really looks like she’s going to take a pull-up jumper, and she’ll explode right by you. She’s really fast. We’re fortunate we have some quick players that are great defenders as well,” Withee said. “I’d much rather make her prove herself behind the three than making layups. We talked about that. We need to take away layups.”

In two tournament wins, Wheaton accounted for 63 percent of Presque Isle’s offense. Stopping her might be impossible, but as Withee said, holding Wheaton to 20 points might be enough.

“Our goal is keep teams under 40. If we can keep Presque Isle under 40 (Saturday), I believe we can at least score 41,” Withee said.

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM

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