FORT KENT, Maine — The visiting Caribou Vikings played hard, but came up short against the Fort Kent Warriors, who earned a 42-41 victory in girls high school basketball action on Tuesday night.
“Caribou is a tough team,” Fort Kent head coach Kelly O’Leary said. “They are well coached.”
O’Leary accurately described the contest as “a game of runs,” with each squad showing bursts of offensive skill and defensive tenacity.
Fort Kent’s Cassidy Lovley turned in a 16-point game and teammate Libby LaPointe chipped in with eight points.
The Warriors took a 6-0 lead within the opening minutes, thanks to hustle and sharp passing. The Vikings were slow to start and only scored their first basket, a 3-point shot from Gabrielle Marquis, with a little more than five minutes left in the first quarter.
Fort Kent came back with a steal, followed by a 3-point shot. Caribou scored again, making it 9-5, before the Warriors added a buzzer beater to go ahead, 12-5, at the end of the first quarter.
The second quarter saw play turn hectic, with bad passes and loose balls from both teams. By the end of the first half, the Vikings had scratched back to come within four points, trailing 19-15.
Caribou stormed into the second half and took the lead 21-19 midway through. Fort Kent, however, took advantage of steals, 3-point shots and foul shots to recapture the lead.
Heading into the third quarter, the Warriors clung to a one-point lead, 28-27.
The Vikings would not go away in the fourth quarter and, making use of three-point plays and steals, remained within three points most of the quarter, even as close as 33-32.
Caribou’s Paige Espling gave her team hope when she hustled under the basket for an offensive rebound and made a layup, getting fouled in the process. Her missed free throw, though, left the Vikings down 39-38 with less than 40 seconds remaining.
Caribou’s turnovers in the final seconds, and their need to foul their opponents in order to stop the clock, placed them in a seemingly unwinnable situation, down 42-38, with just seconds left.
Espling was able to make a 3-point shot at the buzzer but time ran out and Fort Kent secured the victory.
“We had lots of ladies that had to step up and play tonight,” Caribou head coach Ryan Deprey said following the game. He was without three upperclassmen Tuesday night, who are among his top scorers.
Deparey said he expects the team to improve as they get more experience, especially at end-of-game situations.
“We had too many turnovers tonight,” Deprey said.
“They kept coming back,” O’Leary said of the Viking girls. “They are gritty. Our defense really got us the win tonight.”
For the 0-2 Vikings, Marquis and Espling each had 15 points.