AUGUSTA — It’s been, as everyone on the Lawrence girls basketball team will admit, a season in which it’s started off games slowly and had to recover.

In their opening game on the big stage, the Bulldogs did just the opposite — and the result was a tournament win that was never in doubt.

Lawrence led from wire to wire to defeat Erskine 52-20 in a Class A North quarterfinal matchup Friday at the Augusta Civic Center. The win came as the Bulldogs used a hot start and stifling defense to advance to face No. 3 Cony in the semifinals at 2 p.m. Wednesday.

The Rams held off Skowhegan 55-44 on Friday.

“We haven’t really had many games where we’ve had a jump start like this, and we knew that was going to be important, especially here,” said Lawrence senior Hope Bouchard. “We cemented into our brains that we needed to do that, and we were thinking about it when we were out there early in the game.”

Second-ranked Lawrence’s defense asphyxiated Erskine in the first quarter, holding the Eagles without a point over the first six minutes to run out to a 14-0 lead. Bri Poulin led the way defensively for the Bulldogs (16-3) during that stretch as she registered four rebounds and three blocks in the first five minutes alone.




“Bri’s inside presence has been phenomenal for us all year, but she stepped it up another notch to start the game,” said Lawrence head coach Greg Chesley. “We talked about how they were going to slow it down to start the game, so the key was limiting them to one shot. Bri getting those rebounds helped us push and get quick scores.”

After a pair of Grace Hutchins free throws finally put No. 7 Erskine (6-13) on the board, the Eagles got a slight offensive rhythm going in the second quarter to cut the deficit to 16-6. Yet the Bulldogs dominated the rest of the half, getting three 3-pointers and holding the Eagles to a single basket to take a 30-8 lead into the break.

A seven-point third quarter would be the highest-scoring period of the game for Erskine, which wouldn’t get closer than 21 points in the second half. Key baskets from Bouchard and Maddie Provost stretched the Lawrence lead to nearly 30 before the Bulldogs’ reserves provided the final points.

Bouchard had a game-high 14 points and added four rebounds and a pair of steals for Lawrence, which also got 13 points from Provost. The two led a first half in which the Bulldogs made six 3-pointers, two of which came from the freshman Provost at opportune times.


“She has come in and done an absolutely incredible job for us,” Bouchard, who was announced as a Miss Maine Basketball semifinalist during the week, said of Provost. “She’s only a freshman, but she’s stepped right in and done what she’s needed to do. She’s a very good asset to our team.”

Poulin finished with nine rebounds and six blocks for the Bulldogs while also scoring six points. Erskine senior Emma Stred had 10 points but was limited to just four rebounds, well below her season average of 11.3.

Erskine, as Chesley noted, tried to slow the pace of the game early as they held the ball for the first minute and a half before attempting a shot. But after Lawrence’s defense held, a 3-pointer by Alisabeth Dumont on the Bulldogs’ first shot of the game spurred an offensive clinic that forced the Eagles out of their comfort zone.

Lawrence’s Taylor Pellerin (3) battles for the ball with Erskine Academy’s Parker Minzy during a Class A North quarterfinal game Friday at the Augusta Civic Center. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

“Those first few possessions, they took their time, but we got that big 3 from Lizzy on our first possession that was really big,” Chesley said. “Again, that’s that senior leadership stepping up for us to make a big play and set the tone. They didn’t have any jitters tonight; they just went out and executed.”

Next up for Lawrence is No. 3 Cony, which earned its first tournament win at the Civic Center in nine years on Friday. Poulin said the Bulldogs, who previously defeated the Rams (15-4) 69-53 and 55-37 this season, will need a similar start to the game Friday to dispatch Cony a third time.

“We definitely need to come out fast, hard and strong because that’s definitely what was a big advantage for us in this game,” Poulin said. “We also need to have fun with that. We had a lot of fun with it today, and I think that was really important.”

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