February 5

HIGH SCHOOL GIRLS BASKETBALL NOTEBOOK: Waterville’s plan is win and hope

The Purple Panthers need a win and other results to go their way to get into the playoffs.

By Matt DiFilippo mdifilippo@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer

Waterville will end up being either a dangerous matchup in the playoffs or the best girls basketball team in Eastern B to be left out of the tournament.

MORNING SENTINEL/KENNEBEC JOURNAL TOP 10

1. McAuley

2. Edward Little

3. Lawrence

4. Thornton

5. Nokomis

6. South Portland

7. Presque Isle

8. Oxford Hills

9. Lake Region

10. Gorham

WEEKLY HONOR ROLL

• Playing about half the game, Lawrence’s Nia Irving had 21 points and 11 rebounds in a win over Bangor.

• Kori Coro hit for 23 points as Forest Hills completed an undefeated regular season with a victory over North Haven.

• Madison’s Kirsten Wood dished out eight assists as the Bulldogs defeated Mt. Abram.

• Messalonskee’s Kelsey Mayo scored 25 points to help the Eagles past Brewer.

• Waterville’s Colleen O’Donnell finished with 18 points, 11 rebounds, and 12 steals in a loss to Mt. View.

• Emma Pluntke led Carrabec with 14 points and 13 rebounds in a key victory over Madison.

“I was looking at it the other day with my brother, who’s an accountant,” Waterville coach Rob Rodrigue said. “He didn’t know much about Heal points, but he got into it and figured them out.”

Waterville is in the 13th and final playoff spot in Eastern B, with 44.2901 points. The Purple Panthers are right between No. 12 Old Town (46.4506 points) and No. 14 Hermon (39.3827).

The interesting thing is that while Waterville plays Belfast on Thursday, Hermon is at Old Town. If Old Town wins, Waterville will almost certainly stay ahead of Hermon. If Hermon wins, things get complicated.

Hermon would likely move ahead of Waterville by beating Old Town, which would leave Waterville and Old Town for the final spot. With 10 wins (assuming a win over Belfast) Waterville would be more likely to pick up residual points from the teams it has beaten than Old Town, which will has won only six games.

If you understand all that, and you’re rooting for Waterville, then you’re probably also rooting for Oceanside to defeat Leavitt on Thursday. Rodrigue figures if that happens, and his team beats Belfast, Waterville will get in the tournament.

Waterville is coming off a 42-24 victory over Maine Central Institute on Tuesday. But the win that really put the Panthers in a good spot was Saturday’s 35-33 squeaker over Oceanside.

Hannah Allen had a strong first half in that game, and Waterville stayed close despite star Colleen O’Donnell’s foul trouble. O’Donnell picked up her fourth foul two minutes into the third quarter, and Oceanside led by nine with two minutes left in the third. The Panthers cut it to six, and then O’Donnell scored 10 points in the fourth quarter, including the go-ahead basket with eight seconds to go. Emma Cristan then forced a steal and O’Donnell made a free throw before Oceanside missed a halfcourt shot at the buzzer.

The Panthers are 9-8 overall, but their last four losses are by a total of 16 points. They played undefeated Nokomis as well as anyone, losing 36-33.

“We’re looking at going 10-8,” Rodrigue said. “At the beginning of the year, one of our goals was to go over .500.”

• • •

At 10-7, Skowhegan has been assured of an Eastern A playoff spot for some time. The Indians are in sixth with one game to play, but what’s most impressive is that they’ve played with each of the top three teams. Skowhegan lost by 10 to Edward Little, by seven to Lawrence, and by four at Oxford Hills.

“The kids have come a long way from the summer,” Skowhegan coach Bob Witts said.

Witts thinks a big reason for Skowhegan’s strong showing is senior point guard Taylor Johnson, whom he thinks is one of the best point guards in the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference.

“She handles the ball for us,” Witts said. “She runs all of our offenses. She’s just a real heady player. She gets face-guarded every night. She logs a tremendous amount of minutes.”

Witts said Johnson is averaging about 13 points and five assists per game, and is shooting about 70 percent from the line. She has been perhaps even more important on the floor with Witts being a first-year coach.

“It’s a luxury, to be honest with you,” Witts said. “When the ball’s in her hands, she usually makes the right decision. It’s a comfort zone, to have a kid who thinks the same way I do. I really believe whoever gets her (in college), they’re going to get a savvy, smart kid who knows the game — and she can also score.”

(Continued on page 2)

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