The Southern Aroostook girls basketball team looked every bit like defending state champions and Class D North regional favorites Monday morning.
The top-ranked Warriors used a balanced offensive attack and suffocating defense to cruise to a 62-12 quarterfinal victory over eighth-ranked Ashland at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor.
Coach Cliff Urquhart’s club (16-3) will take on fourth-ranked Deer Isle-Stonington in a Wednesday semifinal while Ashland wraps up its season 9-11.
After missing nine of their first 10 shots early, the Warriors quickly found their shooting legs and raced out to a 17-5 first-quarter lead behind Cami Shields’ seven points.
“It always helps when you start creating turnovers and getting some steals,” said Urquhart, who noted that the Hornets struggled with the Warriors’ defensive pressure in their two regular-season meetings.
Southern Aroostook’s full-court trap never allowed the Hornets to get into any flow offensively, with the Warriors forcing 23 first-half turnovers in forging a 38-8 advantage at intermission.
Shields was a force on both ends for the Warriors, finishing with 18 points, six rebounds and four steals, and was one of three Southern Aroostook players to score in double figures.
The Warriors went into cruise control in the second half, continuing to use their defensive pressure to never allow Ashland back into the game.
In spite of that, coach Diana Trams’ Hornets played hard and valiantly, but the Warriors were just unstoppable.
“There’s always things you could do better,” Urquhart said, “I have yet to have seen a perfect game.”
Madison Shields went on to post 11 points and Madison Russell 10 for Southern Aroostook.
For Ashland, Abby Doughty posted five points and Kayla MacLean added four.