Nokomis’ Addison Hawthorne (44) tries to get the shot off as she is defended by Lawrence’s Hope Bouchard (32) and Nadia Morrion (22) in the first half of a girls basketball game Tuesday in Newport. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

NEWPORT — With the midway point in the regular season approaching, Greg Chesley has grown accustomed to seeing his Lawrence girls basketball team down early.

Although much has gone right for the Bulldogs (5-2), they’ve frequently had to play from behind early. It happened again Tuesday night as the team had to fight back from a 10-0 deficit early to earn a 49-38 road victory over Nokomis.

“It kind of seems to kind of be our M.O. that we have not started super well yet,” said Chesley, who’s in his sixth season as Lawrence coach. “Fortunately, we’re a very close-knit team that knows how to stay together in those moments, stay the course and do what we do well.”

Certainly, a senior-laden Lawrence team with a strong chemistry is the kind that’s built to withstand the less-than-stellar moments. As was evident Tuesday, the Buildogs don’t panic; they press on — and now, with a tough early-season slate behind them, they’re set to make a major run in Class A North.

Lawrence’s early struggles against Nokomis didn’t come from a lack of effort or execution; the Bulldogs simply missed their shots while the Warriors made theirs. Knowing his team would revert to the mean offensively, Chesley made a defensive adjustment to keep the clamps on Nokomis standout Camryn King as his team looked for a rhythm.

“We were OK on defense after the first few minutes because Kaylee Elkins came in off the bench and did a great job on Camryn King for us,” Chesley said. “That gave Hope (Bouchard) a little of a break and really gave one of their great players fits. When we can do those things, we can withstand some of those runs.”


Nokomis’ Brianna Townsend (22) drives to the basket as she is defended by Lawrence’s Alisabeth Dumont (23) in the first half of a girls basketball game Tuesday in Newport. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

Withstood the run Lawrence did. In fact, the Bulldogs railroaded any hopes of a Nokomis run altogether as they limited the Warriors (4-2) to a single point in the second quarter and just four in the third. Lawrence just needed an offensive spark to turn what was an early deficit into a relatively comfortable victory.

That spark came early on from Maddie Provost, who turned a 16-10 deficit into a 21-16 lead late in the second quarter with three consecutive 3-pointers in just under two minutes. Chesley had challenged Provost prior to the game to step up with some big shots, and the freshman couldn’t have delivered more emphatically.

“I was just kind of taking the shots that were there for me, and it was just all falling into place, really,” said Provost, who finished with 11 points. “I made one, and then they all started going in for me. We were playing together as a team, and I just got the ball and shot it.”

Lawrence then used its size advantage to put Nokomis away in the second half. Lilly Gray, a 6-foot sophomore, scored eight points for the Bulldogs in the third quarter, and Bri Poulin scored all 12 of her points in the second half while adding game-highs in rebounds (10) and blocks (four).

Lawrence’s Brianna Poulin (34) passes the ball as she is defended by Nokomis’ Addison Hawthorne (44) and Raegan King (20) in the first half of a girls basketball game Tuesday in Newport. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

It was an effort that took some mental toughness from Poulin, who had gone scoreless in the first half despite some open looks. Yet with Chesley encouraging the senior forward to be aggressive in her shot selection, Poulin found a rhythm that only improved as the second half went on.

“I was pretty upset with myself after the first half,” Poulin said. “I think it was more of a mental thing, and I just had to snap out of it. My teammates and coaches were all supporting me and encouraging me to keep shooting. We have a great team chemistry, and that really got me going.”


Elsewhere, Bouchard was held to just a point as Nokomis made stopping one of the area’s best all-around athletes its top priority. Yet even as she wasn’t pouring in the points, Bouchard still played solid on-the-ball defense and helped Lawrence on the boards with six rebounds.

“Even when Hope isn’t having her best shooting night, she’s doing so many other things for us,” Chesley said. “She distributes, she plays defense, and she takes their best offensive player. Yes, we’d like her to score, but we’ve got enough scorers that, on nights when she’s cold, we can get by.”

Nokomis’ Danica Migliore drives to the basket as she is defended by Lawrence’s Elizabeth Crommett (20) in the first half of a girls basketball game Tuesday in Newport. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

The win against Nokomis puts Lawrence past its most difficult stretch of the season. In addition to the No. 4 Warriors, the Bulldogs have also faced Class A North’s two other top-four teams in No. 1 Gardiner and No. 3 Cony. They’ve also faced Bangor, the top-ranked team in AA North at 7-0 over the first few weeks.

Lawrence won’t face any of those teams until ending the regular season with games against the three Class A squads in February. Instead, a Lawrence team that’s learned how to navigate its struggles will have a chance to significantly expand on a four-game win streak as it takes on the league’s middle and lower tiers.

“We really know how to work through it and help pick each other up,” Poulin said. “We need to work on (starting off better), but we’re a tough team, and we’ve shown we can work together and figure it out.”

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