SOUTH CHINA — It was always going to be Sarah Praul’s night.

“In my opinion, she’s a player that can play at the next level,” said Erskine girls basketball coach Bob Witts. “She can be a legitimate star. She can shoot, she can handle the ball, and she can rebound. She does it all for us.”

Praul’s transition layup with nine seconds remaining lifted the Eagles to a 43-41 win over Lawrence on Wednesday night, and it was the coming-out party for the junior forward.

“We’ve been in a slump for a little while, but tonight we brought energy and made our shots,” Praul said. “That was some of the best intensity we’ve had in a while, and I’m really happy that we’re back.

“When she comes to play, she really comes to play,” Witts added. “I think she’s a lot more hungry this year than she was last year.”

Mackenzie Roderick and Praul connected on consecutive 3-pointers midway through the fourth quarter to break a 32-32 tie and hand Erskine (6-4) a six-point lead. Roderick finished with a game-high 16 in the victory.


Lawrence, led by Hope Bouchard with 12 points, fought back to tie the score at 38-all with 1:47 remaining. Bouchard’s step-back three with under a minute to play handed the Bulldogs (6-2) a 41-38 advantage.

Bouchard scored seven of her 12 points in the final period and capped the 9-0 run for the visitors that ended up being their final points of the night.

Erskine Academy’s Sarah Praul, middle, drives to the basket as Lawrence defenders Hope Bouchard, left, and Sarah Pali converge during game Wednesday in South China. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

Roderick answered with a trey of her own to tie the game with 35 seconds left, 41-41.

Lawrence had possession out of a timeout to try and retake the lead, and just as head coach Greg Chesley could be heard screaming the words “take care of the ball!” — an errant pass into the paint was picked up by the Eagles, sending Praul off and running for the winning bucket.

“We just didn’t react well to their intensity and their cranking it up and being a step tighter on us than they were in the first half,” Chesley said. “We’ve beaten Skowhegan, Cony and Messalonskee in tight games. Tonight, those little things that we needed to do that in those games we did — taking care of (the ball) in the end and hitting free throws — we didn’t do those things today.”

Emily Clark finished with three points for Erskine, but her real impact came in the post. The junior grabbed nine rebounds and blocked a pair of shots.


That effort helped control the play of Lawrence’s standout senior Sarah Poli, who finished without a single point in a 14-rebound effort.

Erskine Academy’s Grace Hutchins (33) drives to the basket as Lawrence’s Hope Bouchard defends during game Wednesday in South China. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

“I think the past couple of games, our energy hasn’t been very high,” Clark said. “I tried to box out every time. I try my best to grab every rebound I can.”

Hayden Hoague chipped in with five points for Erskine, which trailed 23-21 at halftime and was down by as many as nine early in the third quarter. Joanna Linscott finished with four points and nine rebounds.

“It was physical tonight,” Witts said. “Usually, our kids don’t take to that too good. Tonight they hung in there, they took the bumps and played through a lot of that stuff. I think Sarah brings that toughness, and Emily is a very good player, too.”

Denelle Eldridge finished with 10 points for Lawrence, while Ali Higgins added eight more.

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