WATERVILLE — For the first time in 10 years, the Waterville girls basketball team finished its regular season with a perfect record.

The Purple Panthers, the only undefeated team in Class B North, put a cap on their 18-0 Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference slate with a 47-28 win over Maranacook on Thursday night at Donovan Gym. In the absence of leading scorer Sadie Garling, Abigail Saucier picked up the slack with a game-high 16 points for Waterville, while Maddy Martin added a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds.

“We really feel like our six through 10 (players) are really good,” Waterville coach Rob Rodrigue said of his team’s depth. “They came out and they executed, they did just what we asked them to do. Madeleine picked up her role in the offensive end, Abigail picked it up, Paige (St. Pierre) played a nice game tonight. That’s one of the conveniences we have, is we have a number of kids who can score.”

“All of our players stepped up, big-time, in a time that we needed it,” Martin said. “We work on rebounding, we work on being tough and playing together in that kind of a sense. (An undefeated season) just shows that it pays off in the long run.

“We really wanted this one to put that stamp on the year, but the tournament is all that matters at this point.”

Garling missed a second straight game after hitting her knee on ice in a non-basketball related injury at the beginning of the week. Rodrigue said she probably could have played if necessary.

Waterville finished its first undefeated regular season since 2009, when it won a third consecutive state championship.

After a tight first quarter in which Waterville escaped with just a one-point lead, better full-court defending helped the Purple Panthers stretch their legs to the tune of a 13-2 run to begin the second quarter and head into halftime with a 21-12 advantage.

“Coach always gets on us in practice and is talking about how we’re a defensive team that needs to work hard on defense,” Saucier said.

Neither team shot the ball particularly well, but Waterville made its bones with a lopsided edge in rebounding — at both ends of the gym — and ended up finishing the night with a 32 -20 advantage on the glass. In addition to Martin’s 10 boards, St. Pierre and Kali Thompson each finished the game with seven-point, six-rebound efforts.

Maranacook, now 9-9 and hoping to hold onto its precarious position as the ninth and final seed in the upcoming Class B South tournament, had more turnovers (13) than points (12) in the first half. The Black Bears finished with 26 turnovers in all.

“We’re much better than what we did tonight. Part of that is their defense,” Maranacook coach Karen Magnusson said. “They’re long and athletic at every position. That’s what makes it tough. Everyone of them can get out in passing lanes and defend, they can all run the floor, they rebounded well against us.

“That’s why they’re undefeated.”

Saucier scored six of her points in the third quarter as Waterville opened things up further.

The sophomore’s three from the left corner at the buzzer as the period ended capped a 55-second possession for the Purple Panthers to build a 37-21 lead.

“Once I think I found my rhythm, I felt pretty good with it,” said Saucier, who finished with four 3-pointers. “Once we get into our offense we get a lot of looks, and it just goes from there.”

Martin scored seven of her 10 points in the third quarter, including a pair of 3-pointers. In all, Waterville connected six times from beyond the arc.

One of Maranacook’s bright spots came in the form of sophomore center Gabrielle Green, who scored all nine third-quarter Black Bear points, and her six rebounds were the team’s high.

But it wasn’t enough to topple Waterville, which will likely enter the regional tournament as a No. 2 or No. 3 seed.

“I told the girls that I’ve been coaching for 20 years, and I haven’t seen too many undefeated seasons,” Rodrigue said. “I asked them to be proud of that and be pleased with that. It’s a great accomplishment. But we’re also quick to say that we could lose in the first round and it would be all for naught. Stay grounded and get ready for the real run here.”

Travis Barrett — 621-5621

[email protected]

Twitter: @TBarrettGWC


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