AUGUSTA — The scoreboard flashed the wrong score during the opening minute. The public-address system sounded like Charlie Brown’s teacher. And an official had to be subbed out after suffering an injury. Not much seemed to be going right at the Class D girls basketball championship game Saturday at the Augusta Civic Center. 

Bit it wasn’t long before everything went right for Southern Aroostook.

Cami Shields scored 28 points, including four 3-pointers, as the Warriors defeated previously unbeaten Valley 60-42 for their third consecutive Gold Ball. 

Down 22-8 shortly after a 10-minute delay to replace an injured official midway through the second quarter, Southern Aroostook (21-1) recovered with an 18-2 run that extended into the third quarter. Shields, a senior guard, scored nine points during the rally.

“Cami got it going,” Southern Aroostook coach Cliff Urquhart said. “A little bit later than she usually does, but she hit some shots. It gave us a little bit of confidence.”

Shields averaged 23.7 points per game in three D North tournament games.


Saturday ended Valley’s splendid season on a down note. The Cavaliers (21-1), who lose only two seniors to graduation and return all their starters, have advanced one round deeper in the playoffs each of the last three seasons.

“This is our toe in the water, I guess,” Valley coach Gordon Hartwell said with a smile. “We knew Shields was going to get some, but when she got it, that made it real tough. They made some tough shots, and I think a lot of that was their experience being in this game so many times. We gained experience today.”

Southern Aroostook held Valley’s 1,000-point ace Madeline Hill to 13 points, who was followed by eighth-grader Liana Hartwell with 11.

At first, the game looked to be the latest in a long line of Valley blowouts. A 13-0 run that included a pair of 3-pointers from Kirsten Bigelow and five points from Hill gave the Cavaliers a 16-4 lead late in the first period. Only the rebounding of Emmalee Landry, who pulled down four of her game-high 10 boards in the first, kept the Warriors in the game.

Valley led 16-8 when an official had to leave the game with an Achilles injury. The game was delayed about 10 minutes while anther referee,, who was to officiate a later game, was brought out of the stands. 


During the delay, the PA system was revived to its previous booming glory — and so was Southern Aroostook’s dream of a three-peat.

“That delay was like a second halftime,” Urquhart said. “We made an adjustment defensively. We started a hard hedge off a high ball screen, and I think it kept them out of the lane.”

The change seemed to work as Southern Aroostook clogged the Valley lane and forced the Cavaliers into shot attempts that were more off-center than in their D South tournament wins.

Although Valley scored the first six points once play resumed and led 22-8 with 4:46 left win the half, Southern Aroostook scored 13 of the half’s last 15 points and trailed only 24-41 at the break. Shields capped the half with a layup off a steal from younger sister Ally Shields with 11 seconds left.

“We had to keep pushing each other, and we had to keep grinding,” Cami Shields said. “We keep telling each other, ‘when you’re weak, we can’t lose it.’ So we were constantly pushing each other and believing in one another as a group.” 


The Warriors scored the first seven points of the third quarter, five by Cami Shields, and took took the lead for good on a Landry layup with 5 minutes, 57 seconds left in the third. Shields’s third 3-pointer made it 36-30 with 2:32 left. 

Valley cut the deficit to 36-35 on Hill’s putback with 37 seconds left in the third, but Southern Aroostook outscored Valley 24-7 in the fourth to seal the win. Shields was 8-for-9 from the free-throw line in the final period.

Southern Aroostook’s program mirrors Valley’s in many ways. The Warriors are based in a small town (Dyer Brook, about 20 miles west of Houlton) where the community gives full support to the high school team and the accompanying youth programs, Urquhart said. The youngsters are out in full force for the high school games.

Valley players watch from the bench late in the fourth quarter of the Class D girls basketball championship Saturday at the Augusta Civic Center. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

Cami Shields said she was one of those young players who looked up to the high school varsity and hoped to make her mark someday. It’s safe to say she accomplished her childhood mission.

“It’s a little girl’s dream,” said Shields, who as the clocked ticked to zero stuffed the ball under her right arm so she could exhort the applauding fans with her left. “All the little kids come to our games, and I talked to some of them before the game today.”

Valley’s dream, meanwhile, will have to await another year. But the Cavaliers are set to return all their starters, so the odds are pretty good in favor of another deep tournament run.

“That’s the plan,” Hartwell said. “The girls have been focused all year long. They had a tremendous season. A game like this will take a little bit away from that, but it’s got to be a motivator to drive you to get back.”

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