February 19, 2010

Top seed Skowhegan in final 2nd year in row


AUGUSTA -- The unbeaten Skowhegan girls basketball team showed its depth and versatility in its Eastern Maine Class A semifinal game Wednesday against Morse.

GETTING DEFENSIVE: Skowhegan Area High School's Kenzie Smith, right, attempts to block a shot by Morse’s Sarah Fitzgerald during their Eastern Maine Class A semifinal Wednesday in Augusta.

Staff photo by Andy Molloy

REPEAT PERFORMANCE: Skowhegan girls basketball coach Heath Cowan has led the Indians back to the Eastern A regional championship game for a second straight season. Skowhegan will play Brunswick at 4 p.m. Friday in Augusta.

Staff photo by Andy Molloy

The Indians pressured the ball, rebounded and shot well in a game that was essentially decided by halftime. The 57-43 final score is a little deceiving considering Skowhegan coach Heath Cowan emptied his bench in the fourth quarter, when the Indians were outscored 17-5.

Skowhegan (20-0) finds itself in the same position it was a year ago, heading into the regional championship game. The Indians will face No. 3 Brunswick, a 58-51 winner over Hampden on Wednesday, for the title at 4 p.m. Friday at the Augusta Civic Center. The team returns many of the same players who lost in last year's final.

"We were very confident coming into the tournament this year," Skowhegan point guard Whitney Jones said. "We're not doubting ourselves. We're just getting ready for the next game and that's what we're looking forward to."

The Indians pounded the ball inside early on and jumped to a 12-2 lead. Then they went to their outside game and knocked down four straight 3-pointers -- three from Adrienne Davis and another from Amanda Johnson -- to take a 25-5 lead early in the second quarter.

"I think the first half was one of our better halves of the season," said Davis, who finished with a game-high 19 points. "We'll just have to keep having better halves, hopefully the next two games."

Johnson and Davis opened the second period with deep 3s from the right side as if to match one another. Davis' 3 resulted in a four-point play for the junior, which she promptly followed with another 3.

"If we don't shoot (3s) we get yelled at," said Johnson, who finished with 13 points, including 10 in the first half.

On the defensive end, the Indians held Morse's top scorers in check. Senior center Kenzie Smith guarded Sarah Fitzgerald and held her to three points while Jones checked Tara Burr. Burr finished with 15 points, but 11 of those came in the fourth quarter with Jones on the bench most of the time.

"Kenzie matched up very well with Fitzgerald and took her right out of her game," Jones said. "Tara's a very good player, she gave me a struggle toward the end."

The Indians led 33-12 at the half and pushed it to 47-22 late in the third quarter when Cowan went to his bench.

"We played as good a first half as we've played all season," Cowan said. "We shared the ball, we passed it, we caught it, we took care of it. The kids did a nice job."

Morse, which didn't face Skowhegan in the regular season, finished 14-6. "There's nothing to be ashamed of," Morse coach Michael Hart said. "It's a great season after being 2-16 to come back and be a fifth seed."

In Brunswick, the Indians meet another team they didn't face during the regular season.

"We're going to see pressure doubly what we saw today," Cowan said. "But our kids pass it and catch it pretty good. If we get to the right spots on the floor I think we'll have a chance."

Gary Hawkins -- 621-5638


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