AUGUSTA — Given a test early on in its Class C South quarterfinal matchup, the Carrabec girls basketball team had all the answers late.

Cheyenne Cahill scored 14 points, Brooke Welch added nine and the second-seeded Cobras pulled away from No. 10 Madison in the second half for a 52-31 victory Tuesday at the Augusta Civic Center.

“We knew our gameplan, and we had to start executing it,” Cahill said. “Taking care of the ball was one of those (points), which is what we didn’t do in the first half very well. … Slowing it down a little bit mentally for us (was important), and then we got going.”

Carrabec, which beat Madison 56-26 in December, also got eight points apiece from Julia Baker and Molly Hay (nine rebounds) while improving to 15-2. Madison, which was led by 10 points from Raegan Cowan and nine from Hailey Paquet, finished 11-9.

“I think we did battle them in the first half, I thought we did some good things, we rebounded pretty well,” Madison coach Al Veneziano said. “I thought we didn’t allow them second shots, and in the second half we allowed a few second shots, and that makes it tough, especially with a good team.”

The victory was the Cobras’ first in the tournament at the Civic Center since their run to the Class C final in 2014. The program has been steadily improving, from a 13th seed in 2018 to an 11th in 2019 to a ninth in 2020, then finally to a second this year.


Now, for the first time in eight years, there’s a semifinal to prepare for.

“(We’ve) been waiting forever,” said Cahill, a senior. “It’ll be one of the best weeks of our lives.”

“I’m just more than satisfied, I’m so happy they get a chance to do it this year, because they were ready to do it last year as well,” Carrabec coach Skip Rugh said. “I think we would have been making a big splash last year as well as this year.”

Carrabec’s Julia Baker gets her hads on the ball as Madison’s Raegan Cowan looks to make a play during a Class C South girls basketball quarterfinal game Tuesday at the Augusta Civic Center. Andy Molloy/Kennebec Journal

Though the regular season matchup was a runaway victory for Carrabec, it looked early on like the tournament rematch was going to be a different story. Madison’s zone defense held together to limit open looks for the Cobras, and the Bulldogs made sure to collapse and create traffic in the post whenever Cahill tried to venture inside.

The teams alternated leads before ending the first quarter tied at 10, but Carrabec began the second quarter with a 7-0 run on a pair of free throws by Welch, a Cahill free throw, a Lindsay Hamilton putback and a Hay basket. Madison continued to hang tough, with a Cowan runner making it 21-16 in the closing minutes, but Courtney Rollins swished a 3-pointer with 36 seconds left in the half to push the margin to eight by the break.

“When any of us hit a shot it brings our energy up, and Courtney’s three was massive for us,” Cahill said. “Just from that, all of us, we all get going.”


Carrabec’s Aliyah Grunder, center, dives for a loose ball with Madison defenders Ashlee Clough, left, and Marina Gilman during a Class C South girls basketball quarterfinal game Tuesday at the Augusta Civic Center. Andy Molloy/Kennebec Journal

Given momentum, Carrabec ran with it in the second half. After a Mackenzie Robbins basket helped Madison narrow the gap to 26-20 in the third quarter, the Cobras scored 10 of the period’s final 13 points for a 36-23 lead. Cahill scored six points in the fourth as Carrabec’s passing began to break down the Madison defense and find the easy looks that weren’t there at the start.

“It made us a little nervous when we went out there and it was tied (at the end of the first quarter),” Welch said. “But we stepped it up, got our momentum going. It was good. … We were a little nervous maybe, playing on the (ACC) court, we had to get used to it. After halftime and we were used to being on the court, we just knew we had to play our game.”

Though Cahill finished as the leading scorer, the Cobras were able to be productive even while she wasn’t scoring, which Rugh said has been a theme all season.

“That’s the type of team it is,” he said. “You want to shut down or put two people on one person, then somebody else is going to be open.”

Madison will bring back 10 players, including starters in freshman Cowan and sophomore Alison Griffeth. Veneziano said the experience of the season, which included a win over No. 7 Richmond in the preliminary round, will help the team grow.

“I think just us being here and getting the experience here (will help) … and then the playing is just on top of that, being able to play on the floor and get the experience for another time and another year,” he said. “For the kids coming back, that’s big.”

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