Martha's magic leads Waynflete to regional final

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AUGUSTA—In Tuesday’s Western Class C quarterfinal win over Madison at the Augusta Civic Center, Waynflete junior guard Martha Veroneau opened up the game with two 3-pointers, and didn’t score from the field again (although she did add 14 points from the free throw line).

Going in to Thursday’s semifinal against third-seeded Boothbay, Waynflete coach Brandon Salway thought Veroneau might be primed for a big game.

“Last year, after she broke the (single-game 3-point) record, she kind of came out flat in the semifinals,” said Salway. “She struggled from the field Tuesday, and I thought she might be due today.”

Was she ever, to the point where they might want to call it “The Martha Veroneau Court at the Augusta Civic Center.”

Veroneau scored 47 points, breaking a single game Western Regional Tournament scoring record ironically held by Boothbay alum Katie Sibley (45 points in 2003), and broke her own record (set last year) of 3-pointers made in a Western Regional Tournament game, putting nine in from beyond the arc, as the seventh- seeded Waynflete Flyers once again led start to finish, knocking off the Seahawks, 78-61.

“I didn’t even know I had done it until I sat down at the end of the game,” said Veroneau, icing her left ankle after the game. “I try to do a good job of keeping my emotions in check.”

“I didn’t know she was close until under three minutes to go, when (Maine Public Broadcasting Network sideline announcer) Bim Gibson told the bench that she was three away,” said Salway. “Then she hit the 3 to tie it and the free throws to break it.”

The five-foot-seven Veroneau also set a record for most 3-pointers made in a regional tournament (every 3 she hits from here on out will just add to it) and helped her team set a record for most 3-pointers made by a Western Class C girls’ team with 12 (freshman guard Helen Gray-Bauer, junior guard Rhiannan Jackson, and senior guard Hanae Miyake each added a 3-pointer of their own to help the cause). Veroneau added eight rebounds and three steals.

Still, she was quick to remind us all of the accomplishments of her team.

“They played great,” said Veroneau of her teammates. “I could not do this without them.”

“They all know their roles,” said Salway. “They all have to chip in everywhere because of our lack of height, so we have to out-scrap teams to win.”

From the “Coincidence or Destiny” department, not only did Veroneau break Sibley’s record against Sibley’s old team, she did it playing for someone who coached Sibley in college, Brandon Salway.

“I told (Martha) who had the record,” said Salway. “Katie Sibley was a great player. I coached Katie when I was at USM with Gary Fifield, Katie was a special player and for Martha to break Katie’s record is pretty impressive.”

Back to the game, Boothbay presented loads of challenges for Waynflete. The Seahawks’ front line of 5-8 Alison Carbone-Crocker, 5-10 Meghan Smith and 6-footer Alexandra Clarke towered over the height-challenged Flyers.

“(Boothbay’s) huge, athletic and they don’t have a lot of deficiencies,” said Salway, prior to the contest. “We might have to turn it in to more of an up-tempo game, but they can run, too. We’ll show up anyways.”

They showed up.

There were jitters, including four turnovers in the first quarter, but Waynflete still led Boothbay by two points after the first, 10-8. In the second quarter, Veroneau started to find the range. At the end of the half, Waynflete was up 32-16, and Veroneau had 21 points, six rebounds and two steals. Boothbay never got closer than 11 points the rest of the way. The Seahawks were led by freshman guard Morgan Crocker with 24 points, while junior guard Sarah Caron added 13 points.

By the end of thee, Veroneau had 37 points and the lead was 53-35. The only remaining drama was the possibility of a record falling.

“I told the kids, my goal is to have them play loose, without a fear of missing shots, “said Salway. “When you can do that here, who knows what you can do. We shot the lights out today, and a lot of it is just attitude not worrying about what will happen if you miss the shot.”

Jackson followed up her 22-point performance on Tuesday with five points, all made in a timely fashion when it looked like Boothbay was going to string together a run. Sophomore Rowan Price added two points, Gray-Bauer had eight, Miyake six, freshman Julianna Harwood had two and sophomore Leigh Fernandez added seven points and three rebounds as she continues to impress with her play in Augusta.

Salway had plenty more praise to heap on Veroneau after the game.

“She’s a pretty a good player,” said Salway. “I don’t think she gets the credit she deserves. You see all these top 10 lists and never see her name on any of them. I think that’s partially because we’re a small school. We played some good teams in the preseason and in the Christmas tournament, like Windham, Greely, Lake Region and Wells and she consistently performs against those schools. She had a great game today but I think she’s still got something to prove. I felt like today she wanted to prove she could put back-to-back games together.”

Another regional final

Waynflete (now 14-7, riding a nine-game win streak) meets No. 1 Hall-Dale (17-3) in Saturday’s Western C Final in Augusta (tip time is 7 p.m.)

Looking at common opponents, Hall-Dale beat Boothbay three times this winter: 42-37 Dec. 19, 61-57 Jan. 7 and 59-58 Jan. 31. The Bulldogs also beat Traip Academy in their semifinal Thursday afternoon, 46-41.

Traip beat Waynflete twice this season (45-30 Dec. 13 and 44-25 Jan. 20). Hall-Dale is led by senior forward Carylanne Wolfington, who scored her 1,000th point earlier in the tournament.

“Hall-Dale’s earned the number one seed,” said Salway. “We’re playing with house money right now, the kids are really relaxed, so you never know. You also never know when you are going to get back to this point, so hopefully Saturday we can play our best.”

“We know that Hall-Dale is a really strong team and they are really well-coached,” said Veroneau. “We’re just excited to make it to the regional final and we know anything can happen.”

The Class C state final is Saturday, March 3, also in Augusta.