AUGUSTA – It may not have been the smoothest journey to get there, but the Skowhegan girls basketball team is back in the Class A North final.

The top-seeded River Hawks fought through struggles on the floor to beat Erskine 47-35 in the regional semifinals Wednesday afternoon at the Augusta Civic Center. Skowhegan (20-0) will play No. 3 Lawrence in the regional final on Friday. No. 4 Erskine finished 10-9.

Skowhegan’s last A North final appearance came in 2019, when the River Hawks fell 32-28 to Hampden Academy.

“It feels very good (to get to the regional final), I’m not very happy with how we played,” Skowhegan head coach Mike LeBlanc said. “It’s always said that you have one of those games during the tournament and hopefully that was one of our games.”

Jaycie Christopher led Skowhegan with 19 points, 17  coming in the first half. Callaway LePage added 17 points for the River Hawks. Sam Golden and Emma Streb each scored six points for the Eagles.

Skowhegan and Erskine exchanged lead six times at the start of the game, before the River Hawks pulled ahead to take a 17-9 lead at the end of the period. Christopher and LePage led the offensive attack in the first half for Skowhegan, scoring a combined 28 of the team’s 35 first half points. The River Hawks took a 35-24 lead into halftime.

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Neither team gained ground in the third quarter, with only a combined seven points scored. Erskine wouldn’t go down quietly, outscoring Skowhegan 9-7 in the final period.

“We knew (Erskine) would put up a pretty good fight, they’re a pretty good team,” Christopher said. “A lot of veteran players. They’re good defensively, they can knock down shots. So, we didn’t really come out ready for that, they made us play. But thankfully we were able to find a way to get a win.”

“We knew we would have to match their intensity,” LeBlanc said. “They have a lot of seniors, possibly playing their last game. We knew they’d come out and be ready to play. They’re well coached. They’re as athletic as ever. I don’t think we did quite as well as we should have, but it worked out in the end.”

Foul trouble would catch up to the Eagles during the game, and the River Hawks took advantage. Particularly LePage, who scored 11 of her 17 points from the foul line.

Skowhegan’s Callaway LePage (31) holds her head after hitting the court hard in a battle for the loose ball with Erskine’s Emma Stred (24) during a Class A North semifinal game Wednesday at the Augusta Civic Center. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

“Skowhegan is a great team, one of the best in the state, if not the best,” Erskine head coach Jamie Soule said. “It’s a tough matchup for anyone. I thought my girls competed hard. We missed some shots; we missed a lot of layups early on. But I’m proud of the effort that our girls gave and the fight that they put up. My girls have fought all year long, and I’m one proud coach today and I told them in the locker room that I couldn’t be more proud to be their head coach.”

It was the third meeting this season between the Eagles and River Hawks. Skowhegan beat Erskine 67-39 on Dec. 23 and 60-35 on Jan. 28.

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Dave Dyer – 621-5640

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Twitter: @Dave_Dyer

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