The Oceanside High Mariners hit four clutch free throws in the final 24.1 seconds to complete a comeback from a 12-point first-half deficit and earn a 31-28 Class B state championship game victory over Hermon.
It was Oceanside’s first ever state schoolgirl championship and capped a 20-0 season.
Hermon wound up 19-3 after losing in a state game for the second consecutive time.
Freshman phenom Bailey Breen gave Oceanside the lead for good with a neat left handed scoop shot with 2:05 remaining in the game. That made it 27-26.
A traveling violation turned the ball back over to Oceanside with 54 seconds remaining and junior guard Emily Sykes hit both ends of a one-and-one with 24.1 seconds remaining to make it 29-26. That represented Oceanside’s largest lead of the game.
“It was nerve-wracking but I pretended I was in the gym all by myself. No audience, no student section, nobody. I just had to hit them,” Sykes said.
Elizabeth Wyman hit a layup with eight seconds left for Hermon but Breen added two clinching free throws four seconds later.
“I shot 100 free throws in the gym with my dad (head coach Matt Breen) every day this week,” said Breen.
Oceanside went 10-for-11 from the foul line in the game while Hermon went 5-for-9 but a costly 1-for-5 in the second half.
“We’re usually pretty good from the foul line,” said Hermon coach Chris Cameron.
The 6-foot-3 Breen, who averaged 22 points per game in the Class B South tournament, was held to just 12 points by the Hawks but four came in the final 2:05. Audrey Mackie, who averaged 14.7 points in the South tourney, was limited to eight points.
Oceanside coach Matt Breen said he would have found it “very difficult” for his team to win if he had been told before the game that his daughter and Mackie would be held to 20 points combined but he also said Hermon’s exceptional 1-3-1 defense can do that so it didn’t surprise him.
Mackie said everyone on the team is capable of scoring and contributing.
The Mariners, who trailed 17-5 with 5:37 left in the first half, held the Hawks to just 11 points over the game’s final 21:37 which was another important factor in the comeback.
“We moved Bailey into the middle of our 2-3 zone and moved Abby Waterman to the outside. Hermon was going low and [Bailey] was coming out and they would get their big dropping down and pushing [Waterman] out of the way,” Breen said. “Bailey bodied up and she is also good at getting to the corners.”
Breen’s physicality neutralized Hermon’s inside game as the Hawks scored just one basket in the paint in the second half after getting four in the first half.
“We couldn’t get anywhere with our offense in the second half and Oceanside had all the momentum,” said Hermon senior Maddie Lebel. “And Bailey really stepped up in the second half.”
Hermon scored four inside baskets in the first half but just one in the second half as the Hawks went 3-for-12 from the floor.
‘“This feels really good,” Breen said. “We’ve worked a lot on our defense. We had to become confident with it and know our rotations.”
Breen finished with 10 rebounds, three blocked shots and three assists to go with her 12 points. She scored in double figures in every game this season.
She said her go-ahead scoop shot with 2:05 to go was “risky.”
“But I had confidence in it. I practiced it. I spend a lot of time in the gym. It was open so I took it,” Breen said.
Mackie had a pair of 3-pointers en route to her eight points.
Waterman had four points and eight rebounds.
Lebel had 11 points, nine rebounds, three assists and three steals for Hermon. Liz Wyman had eight points and six rebounds and Charlotte Caron added four points and five rebounds.
Meg Tracy reinjured her knee early in the first period and played for only 30 seconds after that later in the game.
Both teams shot 9-for-36 from the floor, 25 percent.
“The ball stopped going in the net for us,” Cameron said. “Oceanside’s a tough team. They played well. They like to pack it in in their 2-3 zone and when you have a 6-foot-3 girl in the middle, that makes it challenging. We got plenty of good looks. We had some open threes that we had made in the Class B North tournament but they didn’t go in tonight.”
Hermon, which allowed an average of 28.8 points per game in its four Class B North tournament wins including its preliminary round win over Waterville, completely shut down the high-powered Mariners with its 1-3-1 zone in the first half.
The Hawks made sure they swarmed Breen and Mackie and limited the Mariners to a 2-for-15 shooting performance from the floor.
Hermon shot 6-for-24.
Each team corralled 14 rebounds.
Lebel had seven points in the first half and Wyman had six.
Breen managed just three points in the first half, all from the foul line. She took just two shots from the floor.
Mackie scored five points and was 2-for 6 from the floor.
Oceanside rattled off a 15-0 run spanning the second and third quarters to take a 20-17 lead.
Mackie had a pair of threes and Breen had four points and two assists.
Threes by Lebel and Faith Coombs restored a three-point lead for Hermon but Breen’s traditional three-point play tied it before Lebel closed out the quarter with a free throw.
The lead see-sawed back and forth in the fourth quarter.