BANGOR — Down nine points midway through the third quarter, the Winslow girls basketball team stuck to the plan.

Play tight defense on Presque Isle’s Emily Wheaton, and stay patient on offense.

The plan worked. Silver Clukey’s 3-pointer early in the fourth tied the game, and in overtime the Black Raiders went 5 for 6 at the line to take a 43-39 win and the Class B North title.

“We stuck to our game plan the entire game. I knew down eight or nine these girls wouldn’t give up. They came through big time for sure,” Winslow coach Lindsey Withee said.

No. 6 Winslow (17-5) will face South champ Lake Region in the Class B championship game at 7 Friday night in Bangor. No. 5 Presque Isle finished 15-6. This is Winslow’s first regional title since the Black Raiders won the Class B state crown in 2005.

THE TURNING POINT: In overtime, Maeghan Bernard’s baseline jumper with 3:37 left gave the Black Raiders the lead for good. Winslow’s lead was 40-36 after Bernard sank a pair of free throws. Wheaton made a 3-pointer — her first and only of the game — to pull the Wildcats within one, 40-39 with 2:15 left in OT.

The teams traded four turnovers in the final minute, before Winslow clinched it at the line. Haley Ward’s two free throws with 19 seconds left pushed Winslow’s lead to 42-39, and after Wheaton missed a 3-pointer attempt with six seconds left, Bernard — who scored a team-high 13 points, all in the second half — sank a free throw to ice the win.

“If you couldn’t tell, I was very nervous,” Bernard said.

DEFENSIVE EFFORT: Entering the game, Winslow wanted to hold Wheaton — Presque Isle’s high-scoring guard and Miss Maine Basketball semifinalist — to 20 or fewer points. Wheaton scored 36 points in a quarterfinal win over Maine Central Institute and 35 in the Wildcats semifinal win over top-seed Hermon. On Saturday, Wheaton scored 16. Half of those came in the first half as the Black Raiders adjusted to Wheaton’s ability to change speed and cut to the basket.

“It was a challenge, definitely. We just kept her in front and we all helped out,” said Sarah Guimond, who along with Bodhi Littlefield, defended Wheaton throughout the game.

With Winslow’s defensive effort focused on Wheaton, other players stepped up for the Wildcats. Maggie Castonguay made three 3-pointers in the first half to help Presque Isle take a 22-20 lead into the break. In the third quarter, Madison Michaud scored all eight of her points, and Christina Skidgel hit a three to push the Wildcats’ lead to 31-22 with five minutes left in the quarter.

“They have a lot of kids they can throw at her. They’re physical, and they did a good job helpside on her the whole game,” Presque Isle coach Jeff Hudson said. “Castonguay made some baskets. Sydney (Thompson) made some baskets. In the third quarter, Michaud made some baskets. We knew we needed to have that in order to stay close.”

Bernard scored eight points in the third, finding a rhythm with 10-foot baseline jumpers against Presque Isle’s zone defense.

“It was wide open down there,” Bernard said.

The Black Raiders rallied to tie the game at 33-33 with just over a minute left in the third on a Ward (10 points) basket, but Wheaton made a layup and foul shot with 52.9 seconds left to send the Wildcats to the fourth with a 36-33 lead.

SLOWING DOWN: After Winslow tied the game in the first minute of the fourth, the Wildcats went into stall mode and never scored in the quarter.

“We weren’t really trying to hold the ball. We were trying to make space on the floor so Emily would have a lane to the basket,” Hudson said. “We were fine holding the ball out there if there was no lane. If there was something there, we were going to take it, but there was nothing there.”

The slower pace took the Black Raiders by surprise.

“I was extremely surprised when they pulled the ball out. It kind of took me off guard. I didn’t really plan for that. As a coach, you run through every scenario in your head, and I wasn’t quite ready for that. The girls did a great job adapting and finishing strong,” Withee said.

Winslow had a chance to win in regulation. After a timeout with 12.5 seconds left, Ward and Paige Trask each had a shot go off the rim. Presque Isle called timeout after getting the rebound with three seconds left, and Wheaton’s halfcourt heave as regulation ended was well off the mark.

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM

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