Katahdin girls knock off No. 2 Central Aroostook in Class D North quarterfinal

3 months ago

By Pete Warner, Special to The County

Katahdin of Stacyville dropped a pair of five-point decisions in its regular-season meetings with Central Aroostook of Mars Hill. In the process, the Cougars discovered that they could cause some problems with a 1-3-1 trapping zone defense.

On Saturday night, the seventh-seeded Cougars harassed the No. 2 Panthers with that tactic, setting the tone for a 69-37 Class D North girls basketball quarterfinal victory at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor.

Coach Shaun McAvoy’s team (13-7) blitzed Central Aroostook and scored 25 unanswered points spanning the second and third quarters to earn a semifinal meeting with No. 3 Wisdom of St. Agatha (14-5) at 10 a.m. Thursday in Bangor.

The Pioneers advanced with a 38-28 victory over No. 6 Bangor Christian earlier Saturday night.

Second-seeded Central Aroostook ends the season 12-7.

Central Aroostook’s Abigail Haines takes a shot under the defense of Kathahdin’s Ayanna Lester during a Class D North quarterfinal game at the Cross Insurance Arena in Bangor, ME on February 17, 2024 – Photo by Kim Higgins

“We’re peaking at the right time. I knew this was going to be the result,” McAvoy said of the performance. I was confident about this game. I didn’t think they could stay with us.”

Senior guard Hunter Hartsgrove was the catalyst at both ends of the court for Katahdin. She played at the top of the 1-3-1 and used her quick feet and active hands to disrupt the Panthers.

Central Aroostook was plagued by 29 turnovers and shot only 22 percent (11 of 50) from the field.

“We used it in the second half of the second game and it seemed to work pretty well for us, so we kept going with it,” Hartsgrove said of the 1-3-1. “We’ve been working really hard on our 1-3-1 all season, so it’s about time it worked.”

Hartsgrove knocked down open shots and took advantage of transition chances on her way to a game-high 36 points. That included a 12-for-18 shooting effort from the floor and 10-for-12 free-throw accuracy.

Katahdin’s Hunter Hartsgrove dribbles down the court during a Class D North quarterfinal game vs Central Aroostook at the Cross Insurance Arena in Bangor, ME on February 17, 2024 – Photo by Kim Higgins

Hartsgrove also provided six rebounds, seven assists and nine steals in a well-rounded performance.

“I’d never actually won a game here at the Cross Center, so that was kind of my motivation and we’ve just worked really hard for this,” Hartsgrove said.

Sophomore Emily McNally contributed 10 points, five rebounds and five steals, while Mia McNalley netted eight points.

Shelby Libby snared seven rebounds, made five steals, handed out two assists and scored two points with Mackenzie Landry and Ayanna Lester (5 rebounds, 2 steals) adding six and five points, respectively, for the winners.

Abi Haines paced the Panthers with 16 points and four rebounds and Kylee Pierce provided nine points and five rebounds. Lilly Burtt chipped in with three points and nine rebounds.