SOUTH CHINA — Throughout her senior season, Lindsay Given has been a defensive asset for the Waterville girls basketball team.

When her team needed a spark in the quarterfinals of the central Maine basketball tournament, however, it was Given’s offense that stole the show.

Givens scored eight fourth-quarter points, Keira Gilman added four of her 12 points in the final period, and the sixth-seeded Purple Panthers rolled to the semifinals with a come-from-behind 44-39 victory over No. 3 Erskine Academy.

Waterville improved to 11-3. Erskine, which got 12 points from Grace Hutchins and 10 from Mackenzie Roderick, finished 8-5.

The Panthers’ top duo of Gilman and Kali Thompson, who had 12 points and 14 rebounds, respectively, was clicking as it often has this season, but Waterville needed a little more as it went into the fourth quarter trailing a young, scrappy Erskine team 39-33.

Enter Given, who normally makes her contributions on the defensive end, and is usually content to let others bask in the scorers’ spotlight.


“I don’t mind not scoring a lot,” said Given, who finished with 10 points. “I feel like it says a lot about players when they do put themselves out there for their teammates, and make plays for their teammates. I’m fine with that role.”

This time, though, she was ready to do a little more. After a Gilman basket, Given knocked down a jumper to cut the lead to 2. Then she knocked down another shot to tie the game at 39 with 4:43 left.

Finally, the game’s biggest shot: a straight-on 3-pointer that put Waterville in front 42-39 with 4:04 left.

“A lot of it is I hit that little jumper, and then I kept going from there,” Given said. “I felt good. I felt like we had it.”

“Lindsay wasn’t going to lose tonight,” said coach Rob Rodrigue, who called Given the team’s “defensive anchor.” “She took over the game. She made some great moves in the paint … and it wasn’t just those plays. It was the plays she made down at the other end.”

That’s where Waterville, finally ahead, didn’t let itself fall behind again. The Panthers kept Erskine off the board for the fourth quarter, and their pressure, trapping defense that Erskine had managed to withstand for three quarters began to fluster the Eagles. Waterville forced six turnovers in the quarter.


“That pressure doesn’t really start kicking in until the fourth quarter, when it’s had a cumulative impact on the game,” Rodrigue said. “Going 84 feet the whole time … if you don’t play at that pace and practice at that pace, it’s really difficult to simulate.”

It was also an example of Waterville’s late-game poise, honed by two straight trips to the Class B North final.

Erskine’s MacKenzie Roderick dribbles around Waterville’s Keira Gilman during a central Maine tournament game Thursday in South China. Andy Molloy/Kennebec Journal Buy this Photo

“It was a crazy win. We needed it,” Gilman said. “I think that we’re an older team and knowing what we’re coming into. Even though it’s not the same, obviously, I think the experience really helped us get this win tonight.”

After Waterville took a 33-32 lead with 3:49 left in the third, Erskine finished the quarter on a 7-0 run thanks to baskets from Samantha Golden (six points) and Hutchins and two free throws from Roderick, but couldn’t keep up the momentum in the fourth.

“The effort was great by my kids,” said Erskine coach Bob Witts, whose team returns all but one player. “A little bit of inexperience at playing a game when it really means something probably hurt us down in the end, but next year they won’t have those types of problems.”

Witts praised the performance and development of Hutchins, a sophomore who scored her points on four 3-pointers.

“We’re very confident having her on the floor,” said Witts, who got six points and eight rebounds from Emily Clark and six rebounds and two steals from Joanna Linscott. “Very coachable kid, very smart kid. … She’s got the scorer’s mentality. She will take a couple of bad shots, which I’m OK with because she has that mentality. She has ice veins. She’s not afraid to let one go.”

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