BANGOR, Maine — A good sign of a veteran team is when a squad can play a less than perfect game and still come away with a victory.
Such was the case Wednesday afternoon as No. 1 Houlton (19-1 overall) held off a second-half surge from No. 4 Winslow to pick up a 49-38 semifinal victory at the Cross Insurance Center.
The Shires, last year’s Class C champs, will look to make it back to the title game when they face No. 7 Hermon (13-8) at 2:05 p.m. Saturday in the Class B North championship.
Hermon advanced to the regional title with a stunning 59-45 win over No. 2 Presque Isle earlier in the day. Winslow ends its season with a 16-4 record.
The Shires’ victory came despite the team committing 17 turnovers, compared with just eight for Winslow.
Houlton’s Kolleen Bouchard led all players with 23 points, four rebounds and two steals. Aspen Flewelling chipped in 11 points and five rebounds. Winslow was paced by Heather Kervin with 16 points, eight rebounds and three steals.
Bouchard had a couple of scary moments when she bumped heads with a Winslow player late in the first half and fell awkwardly on the ball right before the end of the third period.
“It’s high school basketball,” she said. “If they are going to let you play, you’ve got to handle the beatings. I actually like that more than ticky-tack fouls.”
Winslow scored the game’s first points, but Houlton took the lead with 4:19 to play when Rylee Warman drained a 3-pointer. Winslow never led again as the Shires held the Black Raiders to only nine first half-points.
“I was extremely pleased with our defensive in the first half,” Houlton coach Shawn Graham said. “Our focus was a good, gritty, 3-point line defense and we needed to rebound. To hold Winslow to just nine points? That was incredible.”
Trailing 21-9 at the break, Winslow came out with renewed focus in the second half and cut the deficit to six (30-24) with 1:47 to play in the third period. That was as close as Winslow would get.
Houlton and Winslow did not face each other during the regular season. The Shires came into Wednesday’s contest averaging 61 points per game, while Winslow averaged 53 points per game.
“We decided at halftime to just play Winslow basketball … aggressive and attacking,” Black Raider coach Lindsey Withee said. “We got a little bit off our game plan early. But no matter what, I am proud of these girls. Houlton is a very good, well-coached team.”