BANGOR, Maine — The Southern Aroostook girls basketball team showed all the makings of a team with its sights set on a championship Monday afternoon as the No. 1 Warriors cruised past No. 9 Jonesport-Beals 71-39 in a Class D North quarterfinal.
Southern Aroostook (17-2 overall) used a swarming defense to force multiple Royals turnovers and converted those turnovers into points early and often.
With the victory, Southern Aroostook moves on to face a familiar foe, Katahdin, in the semifinals Thursday at 3:35 p.m. No. 5 Katahdin (11-8) advanced to the semifinals with a 23-21 victory over No. 4 Shead of Eastport earlier in the day.
Jonesport-Beals ends its season with a 9-11 record.
Southern Aroostook and Katahdin met twice during the regular season, with the Warriors winning both (70-26 at Stacyville and 57-25 in Dyer Brook).
In Monday’s game, the Warriors had a balanced scoring attack with four players in double figures. Kassidy Mathers and Makaelyn Porter each had 16 points, while Kacy Daggett added 14 and Sydney Brewer chipped in 11.
Jonesport-Beals was paced by Kaylee Ireland’s 13 points and Alexsis Sprowl’s 11.
Jonesport-Beals never led in Monday’s contest, but played competitively with the Warriors for the first half.
“I give credit to Jonesport-Beals because they played a great game,” Southern Aroostook coach Cliff Urquhart said.
After Southern Aroostook bolted to a 21-11 lead to end the first quarter, Jonesport-Beals cut the lead to four at one point in the second period (25-21). The Warriors then went on a 13-3 run to end the half with a comfortable 38-24 lead.
In the second half, the Warriors made a few adjustments on defense, and the results paid dividends on offense.
“We were flying by people on defense, which created some five-on-three opportunities (for Jonesport),” coach Urquhart said. “Once we started closing out and staying on our feet, we did a lot better defensively.”
In the second half, the Warriors moved Daggett, a 5-foot, 10-inch freshman forward, from the perimeter to the low post and she collected eight second-half points, mostly from the low post or offensive putbacks.
“I thought we shot the ball better in the second half and did a much better job rebounding,” coach Urquhart said.