Senior guard Jaycie Christopher scored 25 points and grabbed eight rebounds as top-ranked and undefeated Skowhegan defeated Lawrence of Fairfield 44-30 to win the Class A North girls basketball championship at the Augusta Civic Center on Saturday night.
But her contributions throughout this title run haven’t been limited to the statistical kind.
“I’m not going to lie, the first three people we talk to during a timeout are [assistant] coach [Lee] Johnson, [assistant] coach [Kevin] Main and her,” Skowhegan head coach Mike LeBlanc said. “I’m usually last in line.”
The win secures Skowhegan’s first regional championship since 2010, and advances LeBlanc’s club, now 21-0, to play Greely of Cumberland Center in the Class A state final in Portland next Saturday.
Greely, the state champion in 2018 and 2019, defeated Brunswick 38-35 on Saturday to win the Class A South crown.
No. 3 Lawrence ends its season at 17-4.
Christopher, who plans to continue her basketball career at Boston University beginning this fall, shot 9 for 19 from the field with three 3-pointers and also had four assists for the River Hawks, including one that set up a 3-pointer by Annabelle Morris to give Skowhegan a 36-17 lead to open the fourth quarter matching its biggest advantage of the game.
“When I’m out there I have the ball in my hands a lot and it’s just making the right play,” Christopher said. “If I draw defenders and get help, I’ll kick it out to open shooters. Annabelle [Morris] hit a big 3 at the start of the fourth quarter and I said to her right before that play, ‘You’re going to be open when they help, knock it down.’ She did that, and it’s plays like that when I have to trust my teammates, and I know I can do that.”
Christopher also played a key defensive role in limiting Lawrence senior guard Hope Bouchard to two points and helping Skowhegan hold the Bulldogs to just 12 field goals in the game.
“I thought we played fairly well, we played defensively like we had all year,” LeBlanc said. “We’ve talked from day one about how that’s the only thing we can control, our defensive intensity, and I thought we brought that against a very good Lawrence team.”
Callaway LePage added six points and nine rebounds for Skowhegan, while Brianna Poulin led Lawrence with 11 points.
Christopher, winner of the Bob Whytock Award as the tournament’s outstanding player, scored 15 first-half points, including a long 3-pointer with three seconds left in the second quarter that gave the River Hawks a 23-12 lead at the break.
Skowhegan scored the game’s first seven points, beginning with two free throws and a 3-pointer by Christopher, and gradually extended its lead throughout the first two periods thanks to a defense that limited Lawrence to a 5-of-19 shooting effort (26 percent) from the field.
Skowhegan’s lead was 14-7 after the first quarter and was 20-12 when Christopher nailed her third 2-pointer of the half, a step-back shot from the left of the key to match the River Hawks’ largest lead heading into intermission.
Skowhegan then scored the first eight points of the second half to increase its margin to 31-12 on a Christopher drive with 3:49 left in the third quarter and Lawrence got no closer than 12 points the rest of the way.
“We knew we had to limit their players that like to attack the rim,” Christopher said. “They have a lot of kids that can get in the paint and do damage, so for us we had to keep them out of the paint.”