AUGUSTA—Quietly, but undeniably, the Waynflete girls’ basketball team is right back in the hunt for a Western Class C championship.
In a year where the Flyers weren’t supposed to be one of the top contenders, they find themselves just two wins from a first-ever Western C crown after squeaking past No. 7 St. Dom’s, 44-40, Tuesday afternoon at the Augusta Civic Center.
Once again, senior standout Morgan Woodhouse proved to be the difference. Woodhouse, who hit the 1,000 career point mark earlier this month, registered 27 points, 15 rebounds and six steals and after freshman Catherine Veroneau’s 3-pointer put Waynflete ahead to stay, Woodhouse iced the victory with two clutch foul shots with 7 seconds remaining and the Flyers moved on to meet No. 3 Hall-Dale (15-4) in the semifinals Thursday at 2:30 p.m., in Augusta.
“We knew it was going to be tough,” said Woodhouse. “All the teams from (the Mountain Valley Conference) are very good. We just had to run our offense and play defense and we did.”
Waynflete made it all the way to its first Western C Final a year ago and after losing some key players to graduation, the Flyers weren’t expected to soar again in 2009-10, but thanks to Woodhouse and the emergence of freshman twins Catherine and Margaret Veroneau, they beat every Class C foe and went 2-2 against Class B, finishing 13-3 and earning the No. 2 seed for the tournament.
The Saints and Flyers met regularly when St. Dom’s was a member of the Western Maine Conference, but the Saints moved to the Mountain Valley Conference this season (and went 12-6), meaning the squads did not play. Just last year, Waynflete beat St. Dom’s 52-34 in the quarterfinals.
Tuesday, the Flyers seized control early, gave up the lead, but saved their best for last.
Just 39 seconds in, Woodhouse set the tone with a leaner. After a St. Dom’s turnover, Woodhouse fed junior Lydia Stegemann for a layup and a quick 4-0 lead.
After the Saints got on the board with a short baseline jumper from junior Sarah Gosselin, freshman Martha Veroneau made two foul shots and Stegemann followed with another to make it 7-2.
A jumper in the lane from junior standout Allaina Murphy pulled St. Dom’s within three, but Woodhouse countered with a layup. The Saints then got four offensive rebounds on their next trip and finally Gosselin put a shot home to make it 9-6. Stegemann countered with an old-fashioned three-point play, Woodhouse added a free throw, went coast-to-coast for a layup, then took a pass from junior Sam Oakland and made another layup to give Waynflete a commanding 17-6 advantage after one.
In the first eight minutes, Woodhouse had nine points and six rebounds. The Flyers made 6-of-11 shots, while the Saints made just 3-of-20.
In the second, St. Dom’s remained cold early on, but Waynflete couldn’t break it open. Then, the Saints made a move.
Woodhouse made a free throw 23 seconds in for an 18-6 lead. Neither team then scored until 4:22 was left in the half when Woodhouse made a layup.
St. Dom’s then generated a little offense and pecked away.
First a jumper from sophomore Morgan Brown ended an 11-0 Waynflete run and a 7 minute, 59 second drought. Sophomore Mary Caron followed with a jumper, Murphy made a baseline driving layup and junior Meghan Murphy, after three offensive boards, scored on a putback to make it 20-14.
Woodhouse hit a foul shot with 20.7 seconds to go in the half to end the 6-0 surge and although Waynflete seemingly dominated the opening 16 minutes, it only led by seven at the break, due largely to 7-of-26 shooting as it struggled with St. Dom’s 1-3-1 zone defense.
Woodhouse’s 13 points, 10 rebounds and four steals were the difference.
Allaina Murphy continued to heat up for the Saints in the second half and got St. Dom’s right back in the game.
Murphy opened the second half scoring with a layup after a steal. She then hit a leaner to make it a three-point game, 21-18. After Martha Veroneau momentarily stemmed the tide with a jumper, Murphy hit a spinner in the lane and senior Julia Richardson scored on a putback to make it 23-22 with 4:41 left in the third period.
The Flyers momentarily held on to the lead when Martha Veroneau stole the ball and fed Woodhouse for a layup, then Woodhouse got her own steal and raced in for a layup and a 27-22 advantage with 2:53 to go in the quarter, but the Saints closed the period on an 8-0 run to take the lead for the first time.
Murphy got the surge started with a driving finger roll. With 1:21 left, she made two foul shots and with 44 seconds remaining, she made the first of two to tie the score. The second free throw rimmed out, but with 12.1 seconds to go in the third, Brown took a pass from Gosselin, made a layup while being fouled and added the free throw for a stunning 30-27 lead.
Woodhouse tied the game 58 seconds into the fourth when she scored on a putback, was fouled and sank the free throw. Richardson answered with a turnaround and Murphy fed Gosselin for a layup and a 34-30 lead, but Martha Veroneau made a layup after a steal and with 4:10 left, after missing a layup after a steal, Veroneau got her own rebound and put it home to tie the score.
With 3:15 left, Richardson hit a jumper in lane for a 36-34 Saints’ lead, but Woodhouse answered with a layup 14 seconds later.
At the other end, Gosselin was fouled, but she missed both shots. Woodhouse missed in close at the other end and St. Dom’s turned the ball over.
With 2:16 left, Catherine Veroneau lined up a 3 and buried it, putting Waynflete ahead, 39-36.
“No one was up on me,” Veroneau said. “I was about to pass and realized no one was around and shot. It felt good off my hand and felt great when it went in. I was so excited.”
“Catherine’s 3 gave us a lot of energy,” Woodhouse added.
Murphy answered with a layup, but with 1:41 to go, Woodhouse was fouled and made the second of two attempts to make it a 40-38 game.
After a St. Dom’s turnover, Woodhouse was fouled again and this time made both shots for a 42-38 lead with 1:23 to play.
At the other end, Woodhouse stole the ball and that allowed the Flyers to run a good chunk of time off the clock before Martha Veroneau was fouled with 31.1 seconds to play. She missed the front end of the one-and-one, but Woodhouse got the rebound and Waynflete retained possession. With 23.3 seconds left, Veroneau got another chance from the line, but again was off on the first shot. This time, the Saints raced downcourt and got a Murphy layup with 14.1 seconds to go, making it a 42-40 contest.
The Flyers got the ball in to Woodhouse, who capped her stellar game by racing into the frontcourt before drawing a foul, running six seconds off in the process. With 7 ticks remaining, Woodhouse iced the win with a pair of free throws and Waynflete held on for a 44-40 win.
“It was a great game by both teams,” Catherine Veroneau said. “It was really close. It was really fun. Everyone had jitters at the beginning. We weren’t really playing like ourselves. When we started to pick it up, it really became a game.”
“They went on a run and we had to come back and figure out how to play against their 1-3-1,” Woodhouse said. “We just slowed down and took our time on the outside. I think our youth showed a little bit in the first half, everyone was a little nervous, but we have this one under our belt and the next one should be easier.
“I knew St. Dom’s would make a run,” added coach Brandon Salway. “None of these games will be easy. I was really pleased with how we started. Their 1-3-1 zone gave us some problems for awhile. We struggled shooting from outside in the first half. Morgan played great. Catherine’s 3 really sparked us along with Martha turning up the defense. At times, we played young, but late, that wasn’t the case.”
In addition to Woodhouse’s huge offensive output, Martha Veroneau had eight points, Stegemann six and Catherine Veroneau three. The Flyers only turned the ball over 10 times and made 13-of-21 foul shots.
“We needed other kids to contribute,” Salway said. “Morgan can’t put us on her back, but she was pretty awesome today. A great senior effort. The freshmen didn’t play like freshmen. They stepped up and played like veterans. That’s what you need to advance here.”
Murphy finished as the Saints’ top scorer with 19 points.
“We knew she’d score,” said Salway. “We didn’t want her catching the ball on the block and it turning into a score and a foul. We needed to stay out of foul trouble. We did a pretty good with that. She did a good job with dribble penetration. She’s a good player. “
Gosselin and Richardson added six points apiece, Brown had five and Meghan Murphy and Caron each had two. St. Dom’s turned the ball over 18 times and only got to the line seven times, making four shots.
Waynflete (14-3) and Hall-Dale have never met. The Flyers expect to have a fight to the finish in the semifinals.
“Hall-Dale’s tough,” Woodhouse said. “They have momentum. We’ll definitely come strong.”
“I think Hall-Dale’s as good as anyone in the conference,” Salway added. “They have a really good post player. They have good guards and they’re deep. I think it’s a tough matchup.”
Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at email@example.com
Flyers junior Lydia Stegemann looks to score against St. Dom’s. Stegemann had six clutch first half points in the victory.
Freshman Martha Veroneau dribbles up-court Tuesday. Veroneau had six of her eight points in the second half.
Freshman Catherine Veroneau plays tough defense on her St. Dom’s counterpart Tuesday. With 2:16 to go, Veroneau hit the bigget field goal of the contest, canning a 3 to put Waynflete ahead to stay.
Morgan Woodhouse did a little of everything Tuesday, helping the Flyers advance to a meeting with Hall-Dale in the semifinals Thursday.
Waynflete senior Morgan Woodhouse goes up for two points in the first half. Woodhouse had 27 points, 15 rebounds and six steals in leading the Flyers to a 44-40 Western C quarterfinal round win over St. Dom’s Tuesday afternoon.
More photos below.