BANGOR, Maine — When a team shoots 94 percent from the foul line, chances are they are going to come away with the victory.
Such was the case Saturday afternoon as No. 1 Houlton (18-1 overall) defeated No. 8 Foxcroft Academy 61-52 in a Class B North quarterfinal matchup. Houlton converted an impressive 17-of-18 foul shots to help carry the team to victory.
The Shires, last year’s Class C state champions before moving to Class B this year, face No. 4 Winslow (16-3) in the semifinals Wednesday at 3:35 p.m. The Ponies end their season with an 11-9 record.
“This was a battle, and I knew that coming in,” Houlton coach Shawn Graham said. “Basketball can be a game of mismatches and they [Foxcroft Academy] certainly posed one for us because of their size and strength. That was not your typical No. 8 seed.”
Houlton sophomore Kolleen Bouchard led all players with 23 points, numerous rebounds and a pair of blocks. Sophomore Aspen Flewelling chipped in 13 points, including three 3-pointers. Junior Rylee Warman added nine.
Houlton led from the onset, opening the game with a 12-3 run, and built a 23-12 lead by the end of the first quarter. The Ponies, on the strength of their 3-point shooting prowess, cut the lead to 33-23 at the half.
Foxcroft Academy hung with the Shires in the third period and used a 7-2 run at the end of the quarter to cut the lead to 43-40. The Ponies took their first lead of the game early in the final period with a shot in the low post from Simpson, followed by a nifty scoop shot by Bickford to go up 44-43.
That lead proved short-lived as the Shires regained the lead on their next possession when Flewelling converted a feed in the low post from senior Natalie Hill. The Shires then outscored FA 17-8 over the final six minutes for the win
Bouchard, who played with four fouls for much of the fourth quarter, said the Ponies did a nice job of limiting her offensively, while also causing her some frustrations on the defensive end of the floor.
“I need to be more careful,” Bouchard said. “I have to keep trying to get rebounds, but you definitely can’t go as hard when you have foul trouble. You have to play smarter.”
For FA, junior Kendra Ewer led the way with 15 points, all from behind the 3-point arc. Junior Grace Bickford chipped in 12 points, while freshman MacKenzie Beaudry added 10.
With five girls standing 5-feet, 10-inches, FA posed a height problem for the Shires.
“Our game plan was to try and box them out as much as possible,” Bouchard said. “We didn’t do the best job at that, but we still managed to pull out the win.”
“We committed foolish fouls today,” Graham said. “We reached because we didn’t beat them [FA] to the spot. They got some 50-50 boards off us and rebounded well, which is a testament to their height and skill.”
Foxcroft Academy coach Blake Smith tipped his hat to the veteran leadership shown by the Shires.
“Our girls played with a lot of heart today,” Smith said. “They came out at halftime ready to go at it. The X-factor for us in the end is that group of kids for Houlton is used to playing in this type of game and really rose to the occasion.”