Brunswick girls overwhelmed by powerhouse Messalonskee in state final

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Brunswick senior Heather Kinee, left, senior Aidan Sachs, senior Brooke Barter and senior Madeline Suhr receive the runner-up plaque after the Dragons’ 58-33 loss to Messalonskee in Saturday’s Class A state final.

Mike Strout photos.

More photos below.

BOX SCORE

Messalonskee 58 Brunswick 33

B- 7 6 8 12- 33
M- 17 12 16 13- 58

B- Armstrong 5-0-13, Suhr 5-0-10, MacMillan 3-0-7, Barter 0-3-3

M- Holmes 8-2-21, Turner 3-6-12, Brodeur 4-1-9, Genness 3-0-7, Wilson 2-0-5, Wener 1-0-3, Lowell 0-1-1

3-pointers:
B (4) Armstrong 3, MacMillan 1
M (6) Holmes 3, Genness, Wener, Wilson 1

Turnovers:
B- 18
M- 18

Free throws
B: 3-11 
M: 10-13 

AUGUSTA—A season for the ages didn’t produce the desired fairy tale ending Saturday afternoon.

Brunswick’s girls’ basketball team, one week after winning a regional title for the first time, hoped to add a first Gold Ball to its trophy case, but unfortunately for the Dragons, they ran into an absolute juggernaut in undefeated Messalonskee in the Class A state final at the Augusta Civic Center.

Brunswick started slowly and fell behind, 7-0, and 17-2, before pulling within 17-7 after one quarter. 

When regional final hero, senior Madeline Suhr, hit a layup early in the second period, the Dragons looked primed to make a serious run, but they missed several easy shots and the Eagles erupted for 10 straight points to blow it open. 

Messalonskee led, 29-13, at halftime and didn’t let up in the third quarter, going up by as many as 26 points before taking a commanding 45-21 advantage to the fourth period.

There, the Eagles’ starters were honored by a vocal legion of fans before leaving the floor and Messalonskee put the finishing touches on its 58-33 victory.

The Eagles got 21 points from senior standout Sophie Holmes, finished a perfect 22-0, won the Class A state title for the first time, captured their second-ever Gold Ball and in the process, ended Brunswick’s magical season at 18-4.

“Messalonskee just didn’t miss tonight and we did, but I can’t love my girls any more,” said Dragons coach Sam Farrell. “They worked their butts off. We understand that hard work always pays off. Sooner or later, it pays off.”

History girls

Brunswick has produced its share of strong girls’ basketball teams over the years, but the Dragons hadn’t been able to take the final step and reach the state game.

Until this winter.

After a 15-3 regular season, Brunswick earned the second seed in Class A South. The Dragons ousted No. 7 Kennebunk with ease, 57-42, in the quarterfinals, then held off third-ranked York, the defending state champion, 43-35, in the semifinals. That set up a regional final showdown against No. 1 Greely, the heavy favorite, and despite falling behind by 14 points in the second half, Brunswick roared back to pull off a stunning 54-51 triumph to win the regional title for the first time.

Messalonskee was dominant from the get-go this winter, winning its 18 games by an average of  27.5 points. After holding off host Lawrence by six points in their opener, the Eagles had only one game decided by 10 points or less (a 54-44 win at Brewer Jan. 2).  As the top seed in Class A North, Messalonskee ousted No. 8 Gardiner, 67-56, in the quarterfinals, crushed fifth-ranked Hampden Academy, 70-31, in the semifinals, then downed third-ranked Nokomis, 55-39, in the regional final.

While Brunswick was making its third state game appearance, Messalonskee was appearing in its third. The Eagles won the 1987 Class B championship, 38-36, over Mt. View, then lost in the 2009 Class A state game to Deering, 49-34.

The teams didn’t meet during the regular season.

Saturday, the Dragons started slowly, dug a hole and couldn’t climb out.

It took nearly two minutes for the first points to be scored and Messalonskee did the honors when a 3-pointer from junior Makayla Wilson rattled in. 

Senior McKenna Brodeur added a free throw and junior Allyssa Turner converted an old-fashioned three-point play (bank shot, foul, free throw).

With 4:20 left in the first quarter, a Suhr driving layup got Brunswick on the board, but freshman Gabrielle Wener countered with a 3, making it 10-2 Eagles, forcing Farrell to call timeout.

It didn’t help, as Holmes found her groove, pulling up and making a jumper, hitting another jumper, then, with 1:17 remaining, getting a 3-pointer from up top to bounce home for a 17-2 lead.

The Dragons did finish the quarter strong, as junior Sabrina Armstrong scored on a putback and sophomore Charlotte MacMillan buried a 3 to cut the deficit to 17-7.

Holmes had seven points in the initial frame and the Eagles shot 50 percent in grabbing the first quarter advantage.

In the second period, Brunswick started with a Suhr layup and had several chances to draw even closer, but after missing three shots in close, Holmes ended the Eagles’ 4 minute, 17 second drought with a runner off the glass and after Wilson hit a baseline jumper, Brodeur and Turner both made layups to extend the lead to 25-9 with 3:11 left in the half, forcing Farrell to call timeout again.

Again, it didn’t stem the tide, as Holmes scored on a putback to extend the lead to 18.

Finally, with 40.4 seconds showing, Armstrong scored on a runner to end the 6:13 drought and Messalonskee’s 10-0 run.

With 25.6 seconds left, Turner made two free throws, but Suhr countered with a runner to cut the deficit to 29-13 heading to the break.

“We’ve battled back before and we got it to within eight, then we missed three bunnies in a row,” Farrell said. “It’s a lot easier for the other team to shoot well when you’re not.”

Holmes led all first half scorers with 11 points, while Turner added seven (to go with four rebounds, two blocked shots and two assists). Suhr led the Dragons with six points.

Brunswick was stymied by eight turnovers and 6-of-29 foul shooting (including just 1 of 9 from 3-point land).

In the third quarter, Messalonskee ensured that Brunswick didn’t gain momentum and rally.

After Suhr drove for a layup 28 seconds in, the Eagles got an easy hoop off an inbounds set, as Wilson fed Brodeur for a layup.

After Turner added two free throws, Armstrong tried to provide a spark with a 3, but at the other end, Holmes buried a 3 from the corner and with 3:44 to go in the frame, a bank shot from Brodeur extended the lead to 38-18.

Messalonskee wasn’t finished, as Holmes made a short jumper and sophomore Alyssa Genness knocked down a 3-ball to make it 43-18.

Senior Brooke Barter got a point back for the Dragons at the line, but Genness countered with a basket.

With 2.3 seconds to go, Barter made two foul shots, but that only brought Brunswick within 45-21 heading for the fourth quarter.

Which the Eagles treated as a coronation.

After Armstrong started the quarter with a long 3, Genness got a jumper to rattle in. MacMillan then made a jumper and Suhr made a layup after a steal to cut the deficit to 19, but Turner countered with a driving layup, Holmes hit two foul shots and Holmes took a pass from Turner and buried a 3-ball to make it 54-28 with 3:51 left.

After MacMillan banked home a shot for the Dragons, Turner made a free throw and Genness hit a runner.

With just over a minute left, Messalonskee coach Keith Derosby pulled all his starters except Holmes, who came off by herself seconds later.

Down the stretch, Armstrong buried a long 3 for Brunswick’s final points and the Eagles’ final point came on a free throw from freshman Sarah Lowell.

At 2:25 p.m., the final horn sounded and Messalonskee got to celebrate its first Class A championship, 58-33.

Holmes led all scorers with 21 points in her swan song. She added six rebounds and four steals.

Turner stuffed the stat sheet to the tune of 12 points, seven rebounds, four assists, three blocks and three steals).

Brodeur added nine points, Genness seven, Wilson five (to go with three assists and three rebounds), Wener three (to go with six rebounds) and Lowell one. 

The Eagles shot 21 of 51 from the field, including 6 of 15 from the 3-point line, made 10 of 13 free throws and overcame 18 turnovers.

What a ride

Brunswick was paced by 13 points from Armstrong. Suhr added 10, MacMillan had seven (to go with six rebounds) and Barter finished with three. 

The Dragons outrebounded the Eagles, 34-32, but just couldn’t get the ball in the basket, making only 13 of 56 field goals, including 4 of 15 3s, and draining just 3 of 11 free throws. They turned the ball over 18 times.

“These girls have no quit in them,” Farrell said. “They rallied around the seniors. The emotion in the locker room was for them. The girls will reflect later and realize how special this was even if it doesn’t feel good now. These kids have played since they were little. We’ve joked about going to Buckfield and to Dixfield and to any other field. We did that when they were little. It’s a special group.”

Brunswick graduates Barter, Suhr, Heather Kinee and Aidan Sachs, but everyone else returns.

Don’t be surprised if the Dragons make another deep playoff run again next winter.  

“We have a lot of young kids in the program and the seniors set such a great example and high expectations for them,” Farrell said. “This was the most coachable group. They reacted the right way.”

Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at mhoffer@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @foresports.

Brunswick sophomore Rian Sachs fights for a rebound.

Brunswick senior Madeline Suhr defends the shot of Messalonskee senior Sophie Holmes. Holmes led all scorers with 21 points.

Brunswick sophomore Charlotte MacMillan and Messalonskee senior Lydia Dexter battle for a loose ball.

Brunswick senior Madeline Suhr goes up for a shot.

Brunswick senior Brooke Barter shoots over Messalonskee senior Sophie Holmes. 

Brunswick senior Madeline Suhr drives on the defense.

Brunswick junior Sabrina Armstrong leans in for a shot.

Brunswick sophomore Rian Sachs and Messalonskee senior Sophie Holmes fight for the ball.

As Brunswick sophomore Anna Kousky (3) and senior Heather Kinee walk off dejectedly, Messalonskee celebrates its state title.

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Sports Editor of The Forecaster since 2001. Find detailed game stories at theforecaster.net. I tweet prodigiously at @foresports.