Two minutes, 51 seconds.

It’s the kind of time frame that, in the real world, passes us by without much thought. But on the basketball court, it can be an eternity, both in tight late-game situations and early on when both teams are trying to set the tone.

Even now, only three days later, those 2 minutes, 51 seconds are probably lost to the Lawrence girls basketball team’s players, coaches and fans. Those 2:51, the length of time the Bulldogs trailed in Friday’s 58-43 Class A title game win over Brunswick, were a mere footnote in an otherwise immaculate state championship game effort.

No, those 171 seconds didn’t come close to defining Lawrence in a game that was a paragon what this Bulldogs team was this season. What did define the Bulldogs was the way they answered a stretch in which it looked as if they might be in for a much different game than the one that ultimately took place.

It’s hard to overstate just how dominant Brunswick had looked entering Friday’s state title game. Since losing to Gray-New Gloucester on Jan. 10, the Dragons had been on absolute rampage, their only loss coming by four points to an Oxford Hills team that might just be the state’s best. Their wins along the way included a 16-point triumph over a Bangor team that had defeated Lawrence earlier in the season and three Southern Maine tourney victories in which they allowed just 27 points per game.

Before the game, then, there was a sense that the Dragons — who easily claimed the Class A South championship — were the favorite to win the Gold Ball. This was no disrespect to Lawrence, which most felt would give the Dragons a battle in a matchup of two elite teams. Even one of the team’s star players said it felt a bit as if the Bulldogs were the bottom dogs in the buildup to the game.


“It kind of felt like we were underdogs coming in,” said Hope Bouchard, who scored a game-high 26 points for Lawrence. “We played them preseason, and we lost, and that was a pretty bad loss for us, but I think that we came into this game confident, and that was extremely important for us.”

Over the first few minutes, it certainly felt as if Brunswick’s status as the favorite and Lawrence’s as the underdog were deserved. The Bulldogs looked a bit lost on their opening possession as the Dragons locked down on defense to force an errant 3-point attempt from Bouchard. Seconds later, Brunswick was up 3-0 as a series of excellent passes led to a Dakota Shipley triple.

That marked the start of the 2:51 in which Lawrence (19-3) trailed for the first time all tournament. A minute later, another defensive stop led to a Maddy Werner basket that put Brunswick up 5-0 less than two minutes into the game. At that point, the situation boiled down to two words: “Uh oh.”

No, nobody thought the game was over at just a two-possession difference with 30 minutes of game time left to play. Still, as an observer, you notice when something that’s looked a certain way all year starts to look vastly different. “Uh oh” were the exact words of many, from one of my colleagues on press row to Lawrence head coach Greg Chesley, who said as much in a post-game interview.

“We talked all week about how they were going to come out and punch us in the mouth. … They’re a physical team, and we knew they were going to come out swinging, and they did that,” Chesley said. “They hit those first two baskets, and it’s 5-0, and I’m thinking, ‘Uh oh, we’ve got to get a time out,’ but it stopped at five, and we were able to kind of bring it back from there.”

Indeed, Lawrence had a perfect response to that tough stretch early. Good teams, after all, can often find those responses in the midst of those “uh-oh” moments. Instead of panicking, overreacting or feeling overwhelmed by the moment, the Bulldogs succeeded by doing what they’ve done all year: pushing the tempo, closing out on defense and outworking opponents on the boards. Two minutes later, they had the lead, and at the end of the quarter, they were up seven as Brunswick made just one basket in the period’s final six minutes.


It was a product of leadership and chemistry, something Lawrence has never failed to display en route to winning a sixth Gold Ball. Yes, those words are a bit cliché in the sports world — ask any athlete during an interview whether his or her team has chemistry, and that player will almost always reply, ‘Yes,’ regardless of whether or not that’s true. Yet there are some teams that truly are driven by it, and those teams, teams such as the Bulldogs, show you in front of your very eyes.

Lawrence girls basketball players celebrate after winning the Class A title Friday at the Augusta Civic Center. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

One of the Bulldogs’ strengths all year has been a refusal to let the bad moments — and there haven’t been many — define them. They weren’t fazed following early-season losses to Gardiner and Bangor; they weren’t troubled, as Bouchard said after the Feb. 24 Class A North title game, when their 12-game winning streak was snapped with a loss to the Tigers on senior night; and they weren’t, then, about to be undone by a less-than-ideal start with a state championship on the line.

“We’re a team that’s always lifting each other up and saying, ‘Hey, we’ve got this; next basket, let’s keep going; defense, defense, defense,’” said Elizabeth Crommett, another of Lawrence’s six seniors. “We know how important it is to give each other those encouraging words and show that leadership.”

Maybe it was only 2 minutes, 51 seconds; maybe the “uh-oh” feeling wasn’t universal throughout the Augusta Civic Center; maybe Lawrence players, who were in the heat of the moment in a big game, see that brief stretch as a blur. Still, it was an instance of a group of teenagers recognizing a challenge, keeping faith in their preparation and leaning on their leadership to turn early hiccups into a showing of brilliance.

Yes, Lawrence is good at basketball, but those traits, not just athleticism and skill, are why the Bulldogs’ run ended in glory in a game some thought might see them finally meet their match. They’re why the players who helped deliver that glory are almost assuredly going to go far in life, too.

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