Beavers strike gold fourth year in a row
By Kevin Sjoberg
AUGUSTA — It was another record-setting day for the Washburn Beavers Saturday en route to a fourth consecutive Class D state basketball championship.
Staff photos/Joseph Cyr
MORE GOLD — Washburn seniors, from left, Carsyn Koch, Carmen Bragg and Nicole Olson pose with the gold ball following Saturday’s 78-40 win over Forest Hills in the Class D state championship basketball game. The trio, who have played together since their freshman season, wrapped up their playing careers with state titles in the sport every year.
SECOND-YEAR COACH Diana Trams speaks with her Washburn team in-between the third and fourth quarters of Saturday’s Class D state title game played at the Augusta Civic Center. The Beavers prevailed, 78-40, to win a fourth consecutive gold ball.
WASHBURN junior guard Mackenzie Worcester goes in for two of her 28 points in Saturday’s victory over Forest Hills.
TRAPPED — Washburn’s Carmen Bragg, left, and Nicole Olson apply tough defense on Forest Hills’ Haley Cuddy during Saturday’s Class D state championship game in Augusta.
The Beavers broke a Class D state finals record for points in a game in their 78-40 thrashing of Forest Hills of Jackman.
The high-scoring Washburn squad bested its own previous mark of 75 points from last year against Richmond. Woodland’s 2002 squad also previously shared the record.
As they had throughout the Eastern Maine tournament, the Beavers used a fast start to gain control. Washburn hit its first six field goal attempts and used its pressure defense to force 12 turnovers in the first quarter (out of 39 in the game) to bust out to a 22-9 lead.
“They are a little bit quicker on the court than they are in the newspaper or on video,” quipped Forest Hills coach Mike LeBlanc. “I think we were just overmatched and their experience showed out there. We practiced by putting six or seven defenders on the floor to press us, but you just can’t be prepared for what they do because they change it up so much.”
“That’s been our go-to all season — creating offense from our defense,” said Beaver coach Diana Trams.
After Jocelyn Hoyt had given her Tigers the lead 10 seconds into the game, Washburn responded with a Nicole Olson layup off a Mackenzie Worcester assist on the team’s first possession. Following a steal, Worcester converted a pair of free throws and the Beavers never again trailed.
“We worked hard all week, focused on our defense and that got us out to the quick start,” Olson said.
Forest Hills did tie the game as Anna Carrier hit on a layup while beating the Washburn press, but the Beavers then proceeded to score the game’s next 11 points. Carmen Bragg got into the act with a three-pointer and two other field goals, while Worcester was also a part of the run by starting it with a runner in the lane and closing it with two more successful free throws.
The Tigers regrouped late in the first quarter and early in the second. In fact, Forest Hills scored the first eight points of the second period to get to within five at 22-17. Carrier’s conventional three-point play 1:22 into the quarter capped the team’s burst.
“I think we came out of the gates pretty well, but the defensive pressure they applied threw us for a loop a bit,” Trams said. “But our girls maintained their composure throughout the game and continued to play hard.”
Washburn then ended the half on a 24-3 run to go up by 26 points and the Western Maine champions were unable to pull any closer.
“They have a lot of energy and their press is really hard,” Carrier said of the Beavers.
The most important sequence in the Beavers’ late-second half flurry came with 3-1/2 minutes to go and the team ahead 26-17. Worcester was fouled while shooting and nailed the first free throw. LeBlanc then picked up a technical foul. Even though Worcester missed her next foul shot, she hit the two technicals and on the ensueing possession Olson swished a three-pointer off a Worcester assist to spread the lead to 15 points.
Olson notched another three on the next possession and Bragg added a couple more field goals later in the period, while the team scored five of its final seven points before intermission on free throws.
In the second half, Worcester and Carsyn Koch sat for several minutes early on with three personal fouls each, but Washburn’s attack continued in their absence. Five different Beaver players chipped in with two points each, including sophomore reserve Natalie Doody.
Doody ended the third quarter scoring for Washburn by hitting an eight-footer from the baseline as Washburn held a 66-29 lead at that point. The benches were cleared with three minutes to play, but not before Olson’s three-pointer midway through the period gave her team the new record for points in a Class D state title contest. Emilia Churchill, another substitute, closed out the team’s scoring with a basket with 2:40 remaining.
Worcester and Bragg shouldered a majority of the scoring load for the winners and also had excellent floor games. Worcester had 28 points and six assists, while Bragg had 24 points, six steals, four rebounds and three assists. Worcester tied another state finals record with her 12 successful free throws. Tricia Carver of Jonesport-Beals had the same total in 2000.
In addition, the junior guard became Washburn’s all-time leading girls’ point scorer. She overtook Rebecca Campbell, a 2011 graduate who had held the mark with 1,365. Worcester now has 1,387 points with still a season to go.
Olson had another strong shooting performance, going three for six from three-point land to secured double figures in scoring with 11 points. She had four rebounds, two steals and two assists.
“I’m definitely glad I was hitting,” Olson said. “The rims are good down here and I was very happy with the outcome.”
Joan Overman had a team-high seven steals to go along with her five points. Koch led the way in rebounds with eight and also chipped in with three assists and three steals.
Kati Coro had 11 points and Carrier 10 points and 10 rebounds for Forest Hills, which entered the game undefeated as the No. 1 seed in Western Maine.