The Penobscot Valley girls basketball team will be playing in its third Class C North championship game in four years after an impressive 42-27 semifinal victory over Hodgdon on Friday afternoon at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor.
Second seed Penobscot Valley, now 19-1, will take on Dexter, also 19-1 in Saturday’s 7 p.m. final.
Third seed Hodgdon wound up 18-2.
Senior twins Kaya and Holly Loring and sophomore Ellie Austin powered the Howlers to the win.
Kaya Loring had 12 points before leaving the game with an upper body injury in the fourth quarter. Holly Loring had nine points, five rebounds and four steals and Austin had nine points and six rebounds for Howlers.
“We played well,” said PVHS coach Nate Case. “We got out of our offensive flow a bit but we bank on our defense and everybody on our team can play it.”
Anna Oliver’s eight points and seven rebounds, Sadie Thompson’s six points and three rebounds, and Meghan Peters’ five points, eight rebounds and two steals led Hodgdon.
Case said any time you can hold a “great player” like Oliver to eight points and a team like Hodgdon to 27 it is an accomplishment.
The Howlers harassed the Hawks with their aggressive 1-3-1 zone trap and that, combined with their height advantage, forced the Hawks out of their offensive flow and made every shot a challenge.
“Their pressure and their length is definitely something we haven’t seen this year,” said sophomore standout Oliver. “They played a better game than we did.”
Holly Loring scored nine points in the first half and the Howlers held the cold-shooting Hawks to just a pair of Thompson 3-pointers and three free throws.
Hodgdon shot 2-for-21 from the floor against the taller Howlers, who turned in an exceptional defensive effort.
Loring’s traditional 3-point play opened the scoring and triggered a 9-0 run and the Howlers never looked back.
She then fed twin sister Kaya for a layup.
Kaya Loring sank a pair of free throws and Austin capped the spurt with a hook shot from the paint.
Thompson hit her first three with 1:28 left in the quarter for Hodgdon’s first points of the afternoon.
Kaya Loring, the point guard, suffered her injury diving for a ball on the court with 5:01 remaining and her team holding a 12-point lead after Hodgdon had used a 6-2 run to climb back within striking distance.
But Loring’s replacement, freshman Lauren Veino, darted to the basket and converted a layup five seconds later to make it 37-23 and she hit a free throw 41 seconds later.
Rylee Moulton converted a layup off a Holly Loring steal and Lila Cummings scored off an offensive rebound to make it 42-23 and sew up the win.