Rangeley’s Emily Eastlack dives for the ball with Seacoast Christian defender Breckyn Winship during a Class D South semifinal game Thursday at the Augusta Civic Center. Andy Molloy/Kennebec Journal

AUGUSTA — A tough triple threat sent Seacoast Christian to the Class D South girls basketball final Thursday.

Ellie Leech, Breckyn Winship and Kaitlyn Gandreau combined for 42 points as the third-seeded Guardians handled No. 2 Rangeley, 47-35, in a regional semifinal at the Augusta Civic Center.

Seacoast (12-6) will face fourth-seeded Forest Hills for the Class D South title Saturday afternoon.

The Tigers upset No.1 Valley, 34-29, in the other semifinal Thursday. Rangeley finished 11-4.

The Guardians’ fastbreak attack and tenacious rebounding shut down the Lakers and contained scoring aces Winnie LaRochelle, who still finished with a game-high 18 points, and Emily Eastlack (six points). The pair combined to score 55 in a 59-42 quarterfinal win Monday over Temple Academy.

“Seacoast didn’t do anything we didn’t prepare for,” Rangeley coach Brittany DiPompo Russell said. “They played their same defense and they executed their fastbreak like they’re known for. We don’t play them in the regular season and we haven’t for a while, so you always have to step up for those games you’re not prepared for.”


Seacoast Christian’s Kaitlyn Gandreau, left, is defender by Rangeley’s Abi Madrid during a Class D South semifinal game Thursday at the Augusta Civic Center. Andy Molloy/Kennebec Journal

Leech, who scored 17 points, gets the ball to the rim and makes things happen, Seacoast coach Lee Petrie said, while Winship (15 points) adds a physical presence down low and Gandreau (10 points) delivers a soft shot. Together, they gave Rangeley plenty of headaches.

“Those three work pretty hard. They play well off each other,” Petrie said.

Seacoast led 13-11 after one quarter and extended the lead to 26-17 at the half as Winship scored 10 points in the second. With 4:36 left in the half, Winship stole the ball and charged down court for a layup, and 36 seconds later caught a perfect touchdown pass from Leech for another layup.

Leela Hilton, who scored the five points, added some tough rebounding to kick-start the Guardians’ rallies.

It really starts with the rebounding,” Petrie said. “You can’t do anything (without it). Leela Hilton probably won’t appear in anybody’s boxscore, but she did a great job on LaRochelle, keeping her off the glass on every shot. If you can neutralize anyone like her, that’s a great job.”

Rangeley’s Isabelle Whittier, right, and Emily Eastlack converge on Seacoast Christian’s Breckyn Winship during a Class D South semifinal game Thursday at the Augusta Civic Center. Andy Molloy/Kennebec Journal

Rangeley cut the deficit to 30-27 late in the third, but a Winship basket and a pair of Jandreau free throws gave Seacoast some breathing room. A 7-0 Guardians run in the fourth sealed the deal.

Rangeley did not take an easy road to the semis; the Lakers suited up just seven players during a season coach Russell described as being even tougher than last, which was disrupted by COVID-19. Despite the adversity, the Lakers continued to work hard and their efforts were rewarded with applause from their fans as they walked out of the locker room Thursday.

“We just had to keep battling through different things, and that’s what I’m proud about,” Russell said. “They just never gave up, they never decided to quit. They could have just thrown up their hands and said, ‘we can’t do this with seven,’ but they did it.”

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