Old Town coach Heather Richards yells to her team from the sideline during first half action of their Class B North semifinal game against Presque Isle at the Cross Insurance Center on Feb. 23, 2022. Credit: Linda Coan O'Kresik / BDN

HERMON, Maine — The Old Town High School girls basketball team lost to Hermon in the Class B North championship game a year ago, and it appears as though the Coyotes remembered that game well.

The Coyotes, behind junior guard Makayla Emerson and reigning Big East North Class B Player of the Year Saige Evans, scored the last 15 points of the first half and cruised to a 67-23 victory on Thursday night.

Old Town is now 3-0 while Hermon fell to 2-1.

Hermon was the only team to beat the 20-2 Coyotes a year ago, once during the regular season as well as in the final.

Old Town built a 41-11 halftime lead as the Coyotes completely dominated every phase of the game against a Hermon team that has just one player back who saw regular duty a year ago in senior guard Allie Cameron.

Emerson finished with 22 points, four rebounds and two assists. Junior forward Evans notched 14 points and eight rebounds along with three steals and two assists. Forward Gabby Cote, the only senior starter, finished with 11 points, seven rebounds and five assists. Freshman guard Taylor Loring had seven points, three rebounds and two steals and junior guard Alexis Degrasse contributed six points, four rebounds and four steals.

Emerson had 15 of her points in the first half and Evans had 12.

 

Junior forward Bella Bowden’s eight points and four rebounds led Hermon. Sophomore guard Brooke Gallop added seven points and four rebounds.

The Coyotes shot 58.6 percent from the floor in the first half as they did an exceptional job finding the open shooter and scored a lot of points off cuts to the basket that produced easy layups.

The 5-foot-9 Evans and 5-8 Cody attacked the rim and often got open to receive precise passes.

Emerson, a tri-captain along with Evans and Cody, complemented them with her outside shooting as she nailed three of her five 3-point attempts in the half.

“Our cuts were really working, my shots were falling, Saige was hitting layups and we played really good defense,” Emerson said. “That all added up.”

The Coyotes also played suffocating man-to-man defense that held the Hawks to just a 25 percent (5-for-20) shooting performance in the first half while also forcing numerous turnovers leading to transition baskets.

“Our coach [Heather Richards] always says great defense turns into offense,” Evans said. “So we really strive to work on our defense so we can get offense off of it.”

Old Town first broke the game open with a 15-5 run to close out the first quarter as the visitors built a 24-9 lead.

Emerson had seven of the points while Loring and Cody each had four points and two assists.

Old Town outscored Hermon 17-2 in the second quarter including the 15-0 run that featured eight points and an assist by Evans and five points and two assists by Emerson.

Despite losing key players like Maddy Arsenault, Lexi Thibodeau and Madelyn Emerson to graduation last spring, Old Town is clearly a favorite in B North behind Evans and Makayla Emerson, Madelyn’s sister.

Cody didn’t see a lot of playing time last season but has been impressive while joining the athletic Evans to provide the Coyotes with a formidable duo in and around the paint. Emerson is a good outside shooter and Degrasse and Loring are solid all-around players who are capable of providing a variety of positive things for Old Town.

Hermon was gutted by graduation as well as an injury to Bucksport transfer Jade Leeman, its leading scorer during the short pandemic season.

This may be Hermon’s most inexperienced team under head coach Chris Cameron but the Hawks will improve significantly as they gain experience.

Old Town will play its home opener on Tuesday at 7 p.m. against Washington Academy of East Machias while Hermon is scheduled to host Caribou on Saturday at 3 p.m., weather permitting.