AUGUSTA — The Seacoast Christian girls basketball players have a little slogan on the back of their warmup tops: “Embrace the grind.”

After their gritty effort Saturday, the Guardians are one win away from the first state championship in program history.

Kaitlyn Jandreau scored 11 points, 10 in the second half, and third-seeded Seacoast Christian used a stifling defense to defeat No. 4 Forest Hills 39-31 for the Class D South championship at the Augusta Civic Center.

Ellie Leech and tournament MVP Breckyn Winship each added 10 points for the Guardians (13-6), who will face Southern Aroostook in the Class D final March 5 back at the Civic Center.

Southern Aroostook, which won the state title in 2018 and ’19, defeated Wisdom, 59-26, in the D North final Saturday.

Forest Hills finished 13-8.


Seacoast Christian, based in South Berwick near the New Hampshire border, led only 29-28 late in third quarter before a 10-0 run sealed the game. The defense, meanwhile, held Forest Hills scoreless over an 8-minute, 16-second span from the 1:01 mark in the third until a 3-pointer from the Tigers’ Kylie Yu (game-high 14 points) with 45 seconds left in the game.

“Our defense is our best offense, we’ve been saying that all year,” said Winship, clutching a myriad of hardware as she spoke. “That’s how we roll. Our press and our defense, that’s how we get most of our points — a steal or a rebound, and we executed it very well today.”

Leech, meanwhile, was drawing charges from Forest Hills’ offense and frustrating the Tigers in their attempts to advance the ball.

“We practice that,” Winship said. “We make sure we step in front so we’re not doing blocks. Ellie Leech is fantastic at taking charges and she’s probably our best one at it.”

Seacoast Christian sophomore forward Leela Hilton, left, and Forest Hills sophomore forward Grace Allen rebound the ball during the Class C South girls basketball championship game Saturday at the Augusta Civic Center. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

Yu finished with four 3-pointers for Forest Hills, which was denied a shot at its first state title since 1997.

Forest Hills charged out to an 8-3 led in the first quarter thanks to five points from Grace Allen — her only points on the day — but Seacoast Christian roared back with an 8-0 run. Bella Gee, who once was accidentally left behind after a practice, prompting the addition of a “Where’s Bella?” sign on the Civic Center wall — started the rally with a basket with 1:50 left in the period. The Guardians continued the run with a Leech layup off her own steal and a Winship bucket following a Tiger turnover.


After a Yu 3-pointer, Seacoast Christian went on a 12-0 run and eventually led 23-17 at the half.

Seacoast Christian sophomore guard Ellie Leech, left, plays defense on Forest Hills sophomore guard Kylie Yu during the Class C South girls basketball championship game Saturday at the Augusta Civic Center. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

“We’ve worked on defense from Day 1 until now,” Seacoast Christian coach Lee Petrie said. “It’s what we live and die on, our matchups. We feel we can stop anybody when we have to. We give up something once in a while, but we force them to do things they don’t want to do.”

In the third, 3-pointers from Yu, Peyton Chaisson and Allie Dunning pulled Forest Hills within a point, 27-26. Jandreau and Yu traded buckets, and Forest Hills found the net only once more the rest of the afternoon.

“They (Forest Hills) made a little run at us because people were trying to do a little too much outside their responsibility,” Petrie said. “How can you fault kids for trying to work hard?” 

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