Going to the hoop is Southern Aroostook's Madison Shields (middle) while guarded by Hodgdon's Monique Polchies during Wednesday night's girls basketball game. Southern Aroostook won 54-45. Credit: Joseph Cyr / Houlton Pioneer Times

HODGDON, Maine — A girls basketball battle between unbeaten Hodgdon and Southern Aroostook lived up to the billing Wednesday evening.

The Warriors improved to 12-0 for the season Wednesday following a 54-45 victory against Hodgdon, in a game that featured plenty of excitement and nine lead changes. The Warriors now sit comfortably in the No. 1 seed in Class D North.

Hodgdon, who was without the services of three players due to injuries, played admirably throughout the contest. The Hawks are now 9-1 on the year and are ranked fourth in Class C North.

“These types of games certainly help you for the tournament,” Southern Aroostook coach Cliff Urquhart said. “We knew this was going to be a battle from the get go, and it was. Hodgdon played great. Tonight we were just able to execute a little bit better.”

Madison Russell led Southern Aroostook with 22 points, including three from behind the 3-point arc. Madison Shields and Cami Shields both added 11, while Emmalee Landry chipped in with eight points and Ally Shields had two.

For Hodgdon, Marissa Dow and Anna Oliver each had 14 points, while Sadie Thompson added nine points, Monique Polchies chipped in with four points and Meghan Peters and Madison Smith each had two.

The two squads traded baskets for much of the first quarter, with Southern Aroostook on top 13-12 at the end of the frame.

Hodgdon scored three quick points on a foul shot and offensive putback by Dow to start the second quarter. Russell then connected for back-to-back 3-pointers as part of a 13-5 run to give Southern Aroostook a 26-20 lead at the halftime break.

It was the Hawks’ turn to heat up to start the third quarter as Hodgdon went on a 11-2 run to seize a 31-28 lead.

But the visiting Warriors showed their poise while the team patiently looked for the best shot opportunities. Cami Shields connected on a deep two-point basket with 3:17 to play, putting the Warriors back on top 33-31.

The Warriors never trailed again.

Hodgdon cut the lead to six (49-43) on a Dow 3-pointer with 2:40 to play, but Southern Aroostook’s patience down the stretch proved to be advantageous.

Coach Urquhart added he was impressed by Hodgdon’s spirited play as the Hawks tried to claw their way back into the game, particularly the play of freshman Oliver.

“Boy she is the real deal,” he said. “She helps them in a lot of ways.”

Southern Aroostook made 11-of-17 free throws, while Hodgdon converted 5-of-6 foul shots.