FARMINGDALE — It was palm-sweating time when K.K. Wills pulled up behind the 3-point line, stopped, set her feet and let it fly.

“I was worried, kind of, when I shot it,” she said. “But then I was like ‘It’s going in. I have to believe it’s going in.'”

It did. It put the Hall-Dale girls basketball team ahead of Carrabec 50-47 with 2:40 to play. The Bulldogs didn’t trail again, en route to pulling out a 62-54 victory Thursday night in Farmingdale.

“It felt good,” Wills said.

It was part of a team-high 19 points for Wills, helping Hall-Dale hold off Carrabec and star junior Cheyenne Cahill (22 points, 14 rebounds), and it made sense that the junior guard led the Bulldogs on the stat sheet. She’s been a leader all season for Hall-Dale, a veteran voice on one of the younger teams in the Mountain Valley Conference.

“I always tell them ‘Pick your heads up, don’t hang your heads, it’s not over. Keep playing,’ ” Wills said. “Even in practice … I always tell them ‘Keep your head up. You’ve got it next time.’ ”

The best way to lead is by example, and Wills did that Thursday. Nine of her points came in the fourth quarter, and after she hit the go-ahead three, she also made a couple of clutch free throws that boosted the Bulldogs’ lead to 54-47, dealing damage to Carrabec’s comeback hopes with 1:40 to go.

The performance came the same day she had a talk with Jarod Richmond and made a move to shooting guard, with freshman Hayden Madore filling in at point guard.

“(We said) ‘You’re still in charge, you can still run things.’ I think it helped give her some better looks and re-developed some confidence in her,” Richmond said. “We’ve got three girls that are captains on this team, but she’s certainly one of the girls that steps up and leads, and the girls follow her. How she goes, we go a lot of the time.”

Carrabec junior Julia Baker, left, and Hall-Dale junior K.K. Wills dive after a ball during a game Thursday in Farmingdale. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal Buy this Photo

That was good news Thursday, as Wills made plays on both ends to spark Hall-Dale. She was also a nuisance for Carrabec on the defensive side, notching eight rebounds and four steals.

“That’s what I’m trying to be. I’m trying to be (good) on both sides,” she said. “Before this season, that was probably my (Achilles) heel.”

“I thought she really stepped up today,” Richmond said. “That was some of her best leadership on the floor, and she made some really good decisions with the basketball. Just a really great effort from her tonight.”

That young cast for Hall-Dale, however, came through as well. Madore scored 12 points, sophomore Amanda Trepanier added 11, freshman K.J. Greenhalgh had seven and juniors Lily Platt, Averi Baker and freshman Aubrey Gilbert made big plays on the boards and under the basket.

“It was a total team victory. It was everybody,” Richmond said. “It reinforces the message that in order to make this work, we all have to be pulling the rope in the same direction. And we did tonight.”

It was enough to overcome a Carrabec team that, playing its third road game in as many nights, was giving the Bulldogs all they could handle. Hall-Dale’s strategy of doubling Cahill inside early worked, but the Cobras got supporting efforts from Sarah Olson (nine points) and Courtney Rollins (nine points) to hang tight early and go into halftime down 26-24.

Cardboard cutouts above the bleachers are show during the game between Carrabec and Hall-Dale on Thursday in Farmingdale. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal Buy this Photo

In the second half, Cahill fought through the Bulldogs’ defensive pressure, scoring 15 of her points and grabbing 10 of her rebounds.

“She kind of took over at the end, which is what we needed,” Carrabec coach Skip Rugh said. “She’s a special player. … She’s got a knack to see when it’s time to take over.”

Carrabec also got support from Brooke Welch (nine points), who hit a 3-pointer with 4:39 left that gave the Cobras their last lead at 45-43.

“I think it was a battle of the boards,” Rugh said. “They really got us on the offensive end, we were giving up second and third opportunities and that really hurt us.”

Related Headlines

Comments are not available on this story.