The Star-Herald

Balanced offense and clutch 3-pointers help Wildcats top Vikings

CARIBOU, Maine — Presque Isle was in need of a point-worthy victory and Caribou, the No. 3 team in the Class B North region, turned out to be the perfect opponent at the right time.

The Wildcats went on to claim a huge road victory 68-59 Wednesday and it wasn’t only senior All-State point guard Emily Wheaton to thank for it. Wheaton scored her points, 22 of them, including 15 after halftime, but four of her teammates chipped in with nine points or more which gave the team a huge lift.

“We knew we needed others to score and they came through,” said Wildcat coach Jeff Hudson, whose team improved to 5-2 with the victory and moved into seventh place in the division. “It was a great win on the road against a good team.”

Junior forward Sydney Thompson came off the bench midway through the first quarter to provide a huge spark. She drained three consecutive 3-pointers as PI took a nine-point lead (22-13) at the end of the first quarter.

Presque Isle finished with 10 3-pointers overall, with four others beside Thompson getting into the act. Another of the Wildcat reserves, Molly Kingsbury, nailed a pair in the fourth quarter as her team was trying to hold off a late Viking surge. She finished with 10 points.

Savannah Rodriguez played her usual steady defense and led the rebounding effort against the much-taller Caribou squad, but she also came through with 12 points. Maggie Castonguay and Thompson finished with nine each.

Wheaton scored her final eight points from the foul line beginning in the late stages of the third quarter. She was 12 for 16 from the line overall.

“Emily is Emily,” Hudson said. “We expect a lot from her and she always comes through.”

The Vikings, who took an early lead on a Gabrielle Marquis 3-pointer but never got within four points from the first quarter on, also featured offensive balance as Espling and Marquis totaled 13 points each and Taylor Labreck 11 (all in the second half). Alexis Rodriguez added nine points, all from the perimeter, and also provided tough defense on Wheaton throughout the game, limiting her to four field goals.

The Wildcats implemented a triangle-and-two defense throughout the game, with Castonguay drawing the primary assignment on Caribou’s top scoring threat Searra Herbert, who was held to seven points, and defensive ace Madison Michaud primarily covering Marquis.

“Caribou is a tough matchup with their size,” Hudson said, “but we did a decent job rebounding and really limited Herbert and Marquis to an extent, which we thought was a key.”

Caribou’s record fell to 6-5. The Vikes, under first-year coach Kayla Richards (who played under Hudson at Presque Isle) close out the regular season with five of their last seven games on the road.

The Wildcats were back on the road Wednesday, playing a make-up game at Orono, but they will then play six of their final 10 at home.

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