Fort Kent's Larissa Daigle (left) and Penobscot Valley's Emilee Ireland go hard to the floor to retrieve the loose ball during Tuesday's Class C North quarterfinal. Credit: Joseph Cyr / Houlton Pioneer Times

BANGOR, Maine — Using a smothering, pressure defense, the No. 3 Penobscot Valley girls basketball team notched a 38-24 victory over Fort Kent Tuesday morning at the Cross Insurance Center.

The Howlers (16-3 overall) advance to the Class C North semifinals 2 p.m. Friday, at the Cross Insurance Center against the winner of No. 2 Calais/No. 7 Dexter.

“These girls play hard,” Penobscot Valley coach Nate Case said. “They found a defense that worked and we had to grind it out.”

Kaya Loring led the Howlers with 21 points, while Ellie Austin added six; Emilee Ireland had five; and Holly Loring and Mia Neal each had three.

At left: Fort Kent’s Julia Cyr (middle) is surrounded by Penobscot Valley’s Ellie Austin (left) and Emily Austin during Tuesday’s Class C North quarterfinal; at right: Kaya Loring (right) of Penobscot Valley dribbles around Fort Kent’s Julia Cyr during Tuesday’s Class C North quarterfinal. Loring had a team-high 21 points to lead PVHS to a 38-24 victory. Credit: Joseph Cyr / Houlton Pioneer Times

The Howlers held a serious height advantage over the scrappy Warriors of Fort Kent and used that height to their advantage controlling the rebounds on both ends of the floor.

Fort Kent matched the Howlers point-for-point in the first quarter, using its own pressing defense to also create turnovers. The lead changed hands five times before Penobscot Valley took a slim 10-8 lead at the end of the quarter.

“That’s how we play, and that is how we have been successful,” Fort Kent coach Kelly O’Leary said. “On the offensive end we were a little disappointed. Our guards are young and it showed. We were getting some shots, but they just didn’t go.”

The Howlers slowly pulled away in the second quarter as the Warriors shots failed to find the bottom of the net.  PVHS took a 10-point lead into the break and never looked back.

At left: Penobscot Valley coach Nate Case calls out a play for his team during Monday’s Class C North quarterfinal; at right: Penobscot Valley’s Mia Neal (left) is guarded closely by Fort Kent’s Julia Cyr during Tuesday’s Class C North quarterfinal. Credit: Joseph Cyr / Houlton Pioneer Times

In the second half, the Howlers’ advantage grew to 30-18 as the team managed to keep up its defensive onslaught.

Lily Oliver led the Warriors with 14 points, while Julia Cyr added four points and Mia Voisine, Lily Werntgen and Hannah Lovely each had two.

“Penobscot is very athletic,” coach O’Leary said. “It was impatience for us on the offensive side, which is to be expected. This is the first time this group of girls have played here (in Bangor).

Fort Kent finishes its season with a 10-8 record.

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