Leavitt stings Raider girls in quarterfinals with fourth quarter surge

Mackenzie Buzzell LEAVITT, 46 Scoring: Becca Fogg 2, Alexandra Belaire 4, Sophia Gilbert 19, Elizabeth Goulette 5, Chantel Eells 12, Miranda Coombs 4 Rebounds (35): Fogg 7, Belaire 2, Gilbert 11, Goulette 2, Eells 11, Coombs 2 Assists: Gilbert 1, Goulette 2, Eells 2 Steals: Fogg 1, Belaire 1, Gilbert 2, Eells 5 FG: 15-35, 42.9% 3-Point: 2-13, 15.4% FT: 14-17, 82.4% RAIDERS, 40  Scoring: Mackenzie Buzzell 6, Lexi L’Heureux-Carland 7, Alexandria Fraize 2, Julia Quinn 13, Sage Boivin 4, Kaylin Delaney 1, Bridget Bailey 7 Rebounds (13): Buzzell 1, L’Heureux-Carland 2, Fraize 2, Quinn 1, McKenna Gerchman 4, Delaney 1, Bailey 2 Assists: Buzzell 1, L’Heureux-Carland 2, Fraize 1, Quinn 2 Steals: Buzzell 5, L’Heureux-Carland 3, Fraize 2, Quinn 4, Gerchman 1, Delaney 1, Bailey 2 FG: 11-31, 35.5% 3-Point: 2-10, 20% FT: 16-29, 55.2%

Mackenzie Buzzell
LEAVITT, 46
Scoring: Becca Fogg 2, Alexandra Belaire 4, Sophia Gilbert 19, Elizabeth Goulette 5, Chantel Eells 12, Miranda Coombs 4
Rebounds (35): Fogg 7, Belaire 2, Gilbert 11, Goulette 2, Eells 11, Coombs 2
Assists: Gilbert 1, Goulette 2, Eells 2
Steals: Fogg 1, Belaire 1, Gilbert 2, Eells 5
FG: 15-35, 42.9%
3-Point: 2-13, 15.4%
FT: 14-17, 82.4%
RAIDERS, 40
Scoring: Mackenzie Buzzell 6, Lexi L’Heureux-Carland 7, Alexandria Fraize 2, Julia Quinn 13, Sage Boivin 4, Kaylin Delaney 1, Bridget Bailey 7
Rebounds (13): Buzzell 1, L’Heureux-Carland 2, Fraize 2, Quinn 1, McKenna Gerchman 4, Delaney 1, Bailey 2
Assists: Buzzell 1, L’Heureux-Carland 2, Fraize 1, Quinn 2
Steals: Buzzell 5, L’Heureux-Carland 3, Fraize 2, Quinn 4, Gerchman 1, Delaney 1, Bailey 2
FG: 11-31, 35.5%
3-Point: 2-10, 20%
FT: 16-29, 55.2%

By Wayne E. Rivet

Staff Writer

PORTLAND — How quick a coach can make in-game adjustments often decides whether his or her team wins or loses.

For nearly 24 minutes, Fryeburg Academy had contained Leavitt senior center Chantel Eells.

But, she became a force with the game on the line.

Eells scored 10 of her 12 points in the second half and was a force on the glass, hauling down eight of her 11 rebounds over the final two quarters to rally the Hornets to a 46-40 Class A South quarterfinal victory over the Raiders at the Portland Expo Monday afternoon.

Early on, Eells roamed the perimeter, and rarely had clean looks at the hoop as FA’s shutdown defender Mackenzie Buzzell held her to just a pair of foul shots.

In the second half, Leavitt ran the ball through the high post and sought out open players heading to the rim, which paid off with an upset by the sixth-seeded Hornets over the third-ranked Raiders.

“When you are in a close game at the end, it’s on the coach. I got outcoached. At the end, they got some nice back cuts and screens. That’s not on our kids, that’s on me for not having them better prepared. We allowed some high-low post flashes that sometimes we didn’t front, that’s not on the kids,” Raider Coach Sean Watson said. “We had seen it on some tape — we had five videos — that over the second half of the season they used back cuts more. Our girls figured they had to double the ball in the high post, and they were able to find people cutting to the basket. That’s on me.”

Although the Raiders forced six turnovers in the first quarter and seemed to be dictating pace, Fryeburg (15-4) had just a 7-4 lead.

It would quickly disappear as Leavitt capitalized on the weak side rebounding of Sophia Gilbert, whose two offensive boards over the final 1:14 enabled the Hornets to tie the game, 9-9.

“With our style of play, we try to trap a lot and we talk about ‘fixing it’ — someone covering up the open player after. They were prepared for us. They did a great job of making sure they made a quick pass out of the trap to get some open looks, especially inside,” Coach Watson said. “They handled our pressure much better than in either of the previous games.”

Another trouble spot was quick fouls picked up by Buzzell and senior point guard Julia Quinn, forcing the two to the sidelines with two personals and forcing Coach Sean Watson to some early lineup juggling.

Bridget Bailey

Bridget Bailey

“The rotations were a little off due to foul trouble. The expectation is someone will come off the bench and play well. I thought our bench players did play well,” Coach Watson said.

Quinn returned quickly, and jumpstarted the FA offense with a 3-pointer from the right wing. She later triggered a fastbreak with a quick outlet pass to Alexandria Fraize, who threaded a pass to Lexi L’Heureux-Carland for a layup for a 15-12 FA advantage.

Leavitt tightened its defense, and limited the Raiders to just five free throw attempts over the final 1:43.

FA had an 18-16 lead at the half as Gilbert (19 points, 11 rebounds) scored in the final seconds.

Momentum appeared to be on the Raiders’ side later in the third quarter as FA went on an 8-1 run, keyed by Quinn and Buzzell steals that set-up layups. Reserve Bridget Bailey and Quinn each sank foul shots to put the Raiders up 29-22 with 2:01 left in the quarter.

Leavitt answered the run as Eells scored two buckets in the paint, and Gilbert added a pair of foul shots and a buzzer beater to tie the game, 30-30, entering the final quarter.

McKenna Gerchman

McKenna Gerchman

FA had trouble defending the glass as the Hornets took their first lead since 11-9 early in the second (their only lead to that point in the game) on an Elizabeth Goulette offensive rebound.

Eells pushed the lead to 37-30 with a step-back 3-pointer.

“She is a very good player. We did a nice job in the earlier two games. They went to her a lot more today,” Coach Watson said. “Mackenzie (Buzzell), I think, is the best defensive player in the league, and she played well. But, Eells played really well. None of her points came easy.”

Just as they did all season, the Raiders kept fighting. Fraize swished a mid-range jumper and Quinn knocked down a 3-pointer to pull FA within a bucket.

L’Heureux-Carland sank one of two foul shots to narrow it to one point.

After Gilbert scored on yet another offensive rebound (Leavitt held a 13-4 advantage), the Raiders finally pulled even with 1:44 left as Sage Boivin went 3-for-4 from the foul line. Buzzell set up the first trip to the line with a nifty tip away of a pass intended for Eells, starting a fastbreak chance. Boivin then returned to the stripe of an aggressive baseline drive.

Tied at 39, Leavitt pulled ahead for good as Alexandria Belaire sank two foul shots after collecting a weak side offensive rebound and drew a foul call.

Sage Boivin

Sage Boivin

Bailey narrowed it to 41-40 by making one of two foul shots as Leavitt picked up its 10th team foul with 52.4 seconds remaining.

FA nearly forced a 10-second call with good defensive pressure in the backcourt, but the Hornets just made it over the timeline and quickly asked for a timeout.

After Gilbert missed an open shot inside, Eells drew a foul and made one of two foul shots with 27.3 seconds.

Down 42-40, the Raiders saw their chance for a comeback stymied when a cross-court pass attempt was tipped and recovered by the Hornets.

Eells made it 44-40 by converting a pair of foul shots with 13.4 seconds left, and Gilbert completed the upset by adding two more free throws with .09 left on the game clock.

“There is no quit in those kids. In the locker room, Coach (Chris) Dutton pointed out how they’ve been resilient and have overcome adversity. We lost the game today, but all of our kids will be successful in life because of what they’ve learned, that’s the important thing,” Coach Watson said.

The Raiders, the coach thought, ran into a team that caught fire later in the regular season and continued to play well Monday.

“They’ve been on a nice run. There was a point that it appeared they might not even make the tournament, but then had some big wins, including Brunswick, down the stretch,” he said.

Although dejected by the early playoff exit, Coach Watson hopes his players — especially the six seniors (Katherine Parker, Sage Boivin, Lexi L’Heureux-Carland, Julia Quinn, Bridget Bailey and McKenna Gerchman) — appreciate the success they achieved, this season and over their hoop careers.

“The finality comes so quick. I feel really bad for those kids. They’ve put their hearts and souls into the program. They put all of their personal ambitions aside, did all the right things for three and a half months, and to come up short is difficult,” he said. “We talked that’s one of the fascinating things about athletics. You can do all the right things, but you have to play the game and sometimes things don’t go your way.”

He added, “Overall, I think our kids had a fun season, and I hope they realize what you can accomplish when you strive for a collective effort rather than personal goals. They should be proud. We didn’t lose to a team that we shouldn’t have all season. I think we were in the upper echelon with York and Greely.”

 

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