Hodgdon girls defeat SA in thrilling, playoff-atmosphere game
DYER BROOK, Maine – The calendar may show early January, which means postseason basketball is still more than a month away.
But someone forgot to tell that to the hundreds of people who packed the Southern Aroostook gymnasium Friday evening for a varsity girls contest between the host Warriors and visiting Hodgdon.
In a back-and-forth contest that featured 12 lead changes, Hodgdon held off Southern Aroostook for the 47-46 victory. With the win, Hodgdon improves to 8-0 in Class C North, while Southern Aroostook drops to 6-2 in Class D North.
For Southern Aroostook, it marks the second consecutive loss on the year – a feat almost unfathomable for the defending state champs. The Warriors first loss of the year came on Jan. 4 when SA fell to Penobscot Valley 53-51 – which snapped a 28-game win streak.
The Warriors lost two games in a regular season just twice in the past seven years – 2018-19 and 2017-18. Both of those squads, however, went on to win the state championship. One would have to look all the way back to the 2015-16 season to find a time where the Warriors lost more than two games during a regular season. SA finished 13-5 in that season.
In Friday night’s game, Hodgdon received a 14-point effort from sophomore standout Anna Oliver, while Lexi Rackliff added nine points; Meghan Peters chipped in eight; Marissa Dow, seven; Sadie Thompson, six; and Aleyah Matheson, three. Rackliff played for SA last season before transferring to Hodgdon this school year.
For Southern Aroostook, Maddie Russell led all players with 15 points, while Callie Russell added 12; Cami Shields, nine; Emmalee Landry, six; and Ally Shields and Maddie Shields, both added two.
“This was the biggest crowd I have seen (for a regular season game) since the days of the big Houlton-Hodgdon boys games,” Hodgdon coach Wendell Harvey said. “What a great atmosphere. You have to love it.”
The Dyer Brook gymnasium was filled to capacity with players from Houlton, Katahdin and East Grand all making the trip to watch the highly anticipated game.
And the contest certainly lived up to the hype as both the Hawks and the Warriors had impressive spurts throughout the game. Hodgdon amassed a 13-7 advantage at the end of the first quarter, which grew to 27-17 by the halftime break.
Coming out of the break, the Warriors were red-hot, ripping off 11 unanswered points to seize a 28-27 lead. But Hodgdon refused to be rattled for long and the two squads were quickly exchanging buckets for the remaining third quarter, with Hodgdon clinging to a 34-33 lead.
“I tried to tell girls to focus on one possession at a time and to play your guts out the whole time,” coach Harvey said. “We knew they (SA) were going to make a run, and they did. But we were able to level the ship and get settled down.”
The final quarter remained much the same, with both teams trading baskets. Maddie Russell gave the Warriors a 46-45 lead as she converted a free throw with 3:19 to play.
Oliver put Hodgdon back on top 47-46 with two minutes to go, but neither squad was able to find the bottom of the net the rest of the way.
The two squads will meet again Thursday, Jan. 26, at Hodgdon.