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Brunswick junior Charlotte MacMillan shoots a 3-pointer over Falmouth junior Maddy Joyce during Monday’s Class A South quarterfinals. MacMillan had a game-high 17 points as the top-ranked, defending regional champion Dragons rolled to a 74-25 victory.
Mike Strout photos.
More photos below.
F- 5 7 8 5- 25
B- 17 20 23 14- 74
F- Cunningham 2-1-7, Joyce 3-0-6, Dimick 1-2-4, Piers 1-1-4, Powers 1-0-3, Birks 0-1-1
B- MacMillan 7-1-17, Groat 5-0-12, Armstrong 4-1-11, Sachs 4-0-9 Larochelle 3-0-8, Burrows 3-0-6, Guptil 3-0-6, White 1-1-3, Folsom 1-0-2
F (4) Cunningham 2, Piers, Powers 1
B (9) Armstrong, Groat, Larochelle, MacMillan 2, Sachs 1
PORTLAND—As the undefeated, top-ranked, defending regional champion, Brunswick’s girls’ basketball team knows it’s wearing a bulls-eye in the Class A South tournament, but instead of feeling the pressure, the Dragons decided it to take it right to ninth-ranked Falmouth in Monday evening’s quarterfinal at the Portland Exposition Building.
And as a result, Brunswick enjoyed a dominant performance in its first playoff test and looks very much like a team capable of making another deep run.
The Dragons scored the game’s first nine points and shot to a 17-5 lead after one period, extended it to 37-12 at halftime and never let the undermanned Yachtsmen make a run, as starters and reserves alike excelled for 32 minutes as Brunswick cruised to a 74-25 victory.
Junior Charlotte MacMillan led the way with 17 points, senior Sabrina Armstrong added 11 and nine different players got in the scoring column as the Dragons improved to 19-0 on the season, ended Falmouth’s year at 6-14 and in the process, advanced to meet No. 4 York (11-8) in the semifinals Wednesday at 11:30 a.m., at the Cross Insurance Arena across town.
“We hadn’t played in over a week,” said Brunswick coach Sam Farrell. “We wanted to come out and attack and play aggressive. We wanted to come out confident.”
Brunswick made a surprising run to the Class A state final a year ago before losing to Messalonskee.
This winter, the Dragons won all 18 games and only were seriously tested three times, by visiting Lawrence in a 37-31 win, by visiting Greely before winning, 65-63, on junior Marley Groat’s 3-point buzzer-beater, and at Edward Little in the penultimate game of the regular season, a 37-36 victory. Brunswick won its other 15 games by an average of 32.5 points as it secured the top seed in Class A South.
Falmouth, meanwhile, started 0-6, won four in a row, then lost six more games before downing Westbrook to lock up the ninth and final seed in the region.
In last Monday’s preliminary round, the Yachtsmen edged the host eighth-ranked Shipbuilders of Morse, 58-54, to advance to the quarterfinals for the second year in a row.
On Dec. 15, Brunswick won, 54-27, at Falmouth. Prior to Monday, the teams had no playoff history.
The Yachtsmen’s challenge got steeper prior to the game when it was learned that senior captain Grace Soucy was out for the contest with mono.
“We had eight players (in practice) all week,” said Falmouth coach Dawn Armandi. “We were down two injuries and two girls were sick.”
The Dragons came out and did what top seeds are supposed to do, make quick work of the No. 9 seed.
Brunswick missed its first three shots, but got offensive rebounds after each before Armstrong drained a 3 to put her team on top to stay.
MacMillan followed with a long jumper and a putback from sophomore Alexis Guptil forced Armandi to call timeout.
The Dragons added to their lead when MacMillan fed Groat for a layup before Falmouth got on the board with 3:08 to go in the frame as senior Shannon Birks set up classmate Grace Dimick for a layup.
Armstrong answered with a layup after a steal and after junior Maddy Joyce took a pass from senior captain Candice Powers and made a layup, junior Emily Larochelle hit a 3 for Brunswick and after Dimick hit a foul shot, another Armstrong 3 made it 17-5 Dragons after one quarter.
Armstrong had eight points in the first eight minutes, while Falmouth was hindered by seven turnovers.
Brunswick continued to dominate in the second period, as MacMillan scored nine points in 79 seconds to help break it open.
MacMillan started the frame with a 3 while being fouled and she added the free throw for the rarely seen four-point play.
After freshman Allie Cunningham hit a 3 for the Yachtsmen, MacMillan drained a long jumper, then, with 6:02 on the clock, she hit another 3 for a 26-8 lead.
“We’re good at finding open teammates and moving the ball,” MacMillan said. “We’ll all about playing together. I was open and they were feeding me.”
Guptil added a layup and after Joyce finished a feed from Powers and made a layup, junior Rian Sachs made a 3 for the Dragons, Armstrong made a foul shot and Groat sank another 3.
Joyce made another layup with 20 seconds to go, but as time expired, MacMillan set up Sachs for a layup and a 37-12 advantage.
In the first half, Brunswick got 11 points from MacMillan and nine from Armstrong. Falmouth was paced by six points from Joyce, but was hindered by 17 turnovers.
The Dragons continued to keep the pressure on in the third quarter.
A runner from Armstrong was fouled by a Groat layup after an Armstrong steal. The Yachtsmen got a 3 from Powers, but Groat hit a 3, MacMillan scored on a putback and after a MacMillan steal, Sachs made a layup for a 48-15 advantage.
Birks got a point back at the line, but senior MacKenzie Burrows made a layup for Brunswick.
After freshman Karley Piers sank a 3 for Falmouth, Groat banked home a runner, MacMillan made a layup after a steal, Groat fed MacMillan for a layup, Burrows drove for a layup and Guptil scored on a putback to make it 60-19.
Piers ended the 10-0 run with a free throw and the Dragons’ had a 40-point advantage heading for the fourth quarter.
There, Brunswick’s reserves got in on the fun.
After Sachs opened the final stanza with a layup after a steal, junior Rosalie White made a layup, Larochelle hit a 3, White added a free throw and with 4:42 to go, a layup from Burrows made it 70-20.
After a free throw from Dimick, Larochelle hit a jumper. Cunningham made one foul shot and after a putback from junior Maggie Folsom gave the Dragons their final points, a 3 from Cunningham accounted for the 74-25 final score.
“The first game is always nervewracking,” said Armstrong. “We went out there and played calm and played our basketball. I feel like the starters worked well together and the girls off the bench made a really good contributions. My teammates are really supportive. They were feeding me the ball, then Charlotte got hot and we fed her the ball. We don’t care who scores, we just feed the hot hand.”
“We want to win every game and we knew they wanted to win too,” MacMillan said. “We came out and played like every other game this season.”
“The girls have such high standards for themselves,” Farrell added. “They weren’t too happy with some of the things we did in the first half. They talked to each other about what we weren’t doing right. Not one of the girls knew the score, but they were coaching each other up. We have a lot of leaders on this team. We have two captains, but a lot of leaders. When you have smart kids and kids who care so much, I don’t have to do much coaching.”
MacMillan led all scorers with 17 points. She also had six steals. Groat added 12 points, Armstrong had 11 (as well as three steals), Sachs nine, Larochelle eight, Burrows and Guptil (eight rebounds) six apiece, White three and Folsom two.
The Dragons had a 33-24 rebounding advantage, made 3 of 5 free throws and turned the ball over 15 times, but nine of those came in the fourth quarter well after the game was decided.
Looking ahead to Wednesday, Brunswick and York didn’t play this year. Last winter, the Dragons held off the Wildcats, 43-35, in the semifinal round.
“We’re going to watch film on (York) tomorrow,” Armstrong said. “We know them a little from playing them last year. They’re here, so it’ll be a tough game. If we play well, we’ll be OK.”
“We like the momentum,” Farrell said. “I’d play tomorrow if I could. The girls just get ready to play and they have so much fun together.
“York’s a great team. They can handle the ball and they play very deliberate. They don’t take bad shots. They’re smart.”
For Falmouth, Cunningham led the way with seven points. Joyce added six points (to go with four rebounds and three steals), Dimick (three assists) and Piers had four apiece, Powers (five rebounds) finished with three and Birks had one.
The Yachtsmen made 5 of 11 free throws and turned the ball over 32 times.
“We knew coming in that it would be a miracle if we pulled off a win, but we weren’t going to go down without a fight,” Armandi said. “We threw three different types of defense at them and nothing slowed them down. Kudos to them. We had a tough time stopping them.
“I’m super-proud of the girls for getting here. I think they deserved to be here. That’s two years in a row we’ve done that. It’s something to be proud of and gives hope to the program.”
Birks, Dimick, Powers, Soucy and Katie Rogers graduate, several key contributors will return next winter.
“We have seven girls coming back,” Armandi said. “That’s something to work with.”
Brunswick senior MacKenzie Burrows is defended by Falmouth junior Maddy Joyce, left, and senior Katie Rogers.
Falmouth senior Shannon Birks is defended by Brunswick juniors Marley Groat (11) and Rian Sachs.
Falmouth freshman Karley Piers drives to the basket.
Falmouth senior captain Candice Powers goes up for a shot as Brunswick junior Rian Sachs defends.
Brunswick senior Sabrina Armstrong and Falmouth senior Shannon Birks fight for a rebound.