BANGOR, Maine — Bangor High School senior center Cordelia Stewart had played only four minutes in the first half because she picked up two quick fouls.
So when she returned to the game in the second half, she was rested and ready to go.
Stewart responded with 15 points and five rebounds as the Rams avenged their only loss by dealing Lawrence High of Fairfield its first setback, 54-41, at Red Barry Gym Thursday night.
“I was ready to get back in there and do some damage,” said the 6-foot Stewart.
Mary Butler had 16 points and 10 rebounds for the 16-1 Rams, who outscored Lawrence 15-5 in the third quarter to transform a halftime tie into a 39-29 lead.
Lawrence pulled within 42-36 but Stewart hit a short jumper in the lane with 2:48 left and was fouled. She converted the free throw.
Paige Belanger sank a layup off a Dominique Lewis feed but Stewart scored off a Mary Butler pass underneath and Sarah Bragg fed a wide open Emily Gilmore for a three-foot jumper to sew up the win.
Bragg celebrated her 17th birthday with 11 points and five assists and Gilmore had nine points and six rebounds.
Nia Irving’s game-high 18 points paced 15-1 Lawrence of Fairfield and she also grabbed nine rebounds. Belanger had 11 points and 11 rebounds and Lewis finished with 10 points.
“We did a good job contesting their shots in the second half and we were patient on offense when we needed to be,” said Mary Butler. “We did a better job shifting as a unit defensively in the second half. That’s what helped us break away. And Cordelia had a real good second half.”
Bangor started the game in a player-to-player defense but when Stewart got into foul trouble, the Rams switched to a 2-3 zone.
The Rams did an effective job double-teaming Irving in the second half and extending the zone to neutralize the 3-point shooting of Lewis.
Irving, who was also in foul trouble, was held to eight second-half points and Lewis had four.
“We didn’t play good half-court defense,” said Lawrence coach John Donato. “Our guards didn’t pressure the ball and when that happens, Bangor’s size becomes a factor. Our guards weren’t very aggressive. And Bangor is a good team.”
“Bangor drove the ball real well. I picked up two early fouls. They tried to get us into foul trouble early,” said 6-foot-1 junior Irving, who scored Lawrence’s first eight points.
Irving also shouldered some blame by saying, “I didn’t play very good defense on (Stewart).”
Bangor scored seven straight points to open the third quarter and took a lead it would never relinquish.
Stewart scored a traditional three-point play off an offensive rebound and banked in a six-foot hook shot before Gilmore sank two free throws.
A Lewis 3-pointer cut the lead to four but Stewart’s turnaround jumper and Bragg’s free throw made it 34-27. Belanger hit a driving layup but the Rams scored the final five points of the quarter on a Mary Butler free throw and 10-foot jumper off a Bragg pass and Bragg’s two free throws.
“This is all I could ask for for my birthday: a win over Lawrence,” grinned Bragg. “We had to make sure Nia didn’t get any easy shots. And she got into foul trouble which helped us out a lot.”
“We had to stop Nia to the best our our abilities. It was nice to have two big people in there,” said Stewart, who was joined in the middle by fellow six-footers Mary and Katie Butler.