Raiders struggle with their shooting, fall to Hawks in quarterfinals

Makayla Cooper takes the ball strong to the hoop. (Rivet Photos)

By Wayne E. Rivet

Staff Writer

PORTLAND — Watching their offenses sputter through the first half, Raider Coach Sean Watson and Marshwood Coach Steve Freeman hoped someone could provide a spark.

Marshwood freshman Angelina Bisson was the difference maker.

With three games left in the regular season, Coach Freeman brought Bisson up from the junior varsity to give his Hawk offense a little more firepower. The move worked.

Bisson connected on a pair of three-pointers, was 5-of-8 from the floor and 4-of-6 from the foul line for a game-high 16 points to lead fourth-seeded Marshwood to a 40-32 victory over fifth-seed Fryeburg Academy in Class A quarterfinal action at the Portland Expo Monday night.

Fryeburg was ice cold from the field, going 10-of-39 for a 25.6% clip. What really hurt the Raiders was a dismal night at the foul line, where the club was just 10-of-21, 47.6%.

“When I watched the game tape Monday night when I got home, I saw that we got the shots we wanted, but we just didn’t finish,” FA Coach Sean Watson said. “We have struggled at times offensively through the year and tonight we had some of those spells again. Marshwood is very good defensively. They switched up their defenses a little bit, and did a good job of taking away our dribble penetration. If we have a hard time getting to the hole, that creates some problems for us. A lot of credit to that defense. The coach didn’t do a good job of finding ways to create offensive chances.”

Mackenzie Buzzell on a fastbreak chance.

While both defenses were aggressive in the opening quarter, neither club exhibited a smooth scoring touch or any rhythm (Raiders had six turnovers, Marshwood five). FA took the early 5-2 lead — yes, after eight minutes of play, just seven points were scored — as Nicole Bennett (8 points, 7 rebounds) sank one of two foul shots and scored inside the lane, while Mackenzie Buzzell (9 points, 4 rebounds, 4 steals) banked one off the glass on a strong drive to the hoop.

Marshwood avoided a goose egg on the board when Jordyn Beers scored on a layup with 2:51 left in the period.

The Hawks (15-4) tied the game on a Courtney Thim inside shot and took their first lead with 5:56 left when Miranda Montgomery snagged an offensive rebound and scored.

After Buzzell tied the game for the Raiders, Bisson made her presence felt when she connected on a three-pointer with 2:09 left. FA inched closer on a nicely placed lob pass from Kaylin Delaney (seven points) to Buzzell for a score, but the Hawks took a 12-10 lead into the lockerroom as Thim sank 1-of-2 foul shots in the closing minute.

“At halftime, I told our kids we could be a little more aggressive on dribble penetration when they saw gaps and don’t pass up open looks,” Coach Watson said. “We felt as long as each player gave their best effort, we would be fine.”

Fryeburg was unable to find an answer to their offensive woes in the third quarter, scoring just three points (1-of-8 shooting, 1-of-4 from the foul line and 0-for-3 from behind the arc) on a Buzzell foul shot and a baseline jumper by Bennett at the 5:03 mark. The Raiders went scoreless over the final five minutes, and Marshwood surged to a 21-13 lead.

Nicole Bennett works for a shot.

“I didn’t see a lot of changes from the time we played them before, although it seemed they were a lot bigger than I remember when we played back in December,” Coach Watson said.

Makayla Cooper (7 points, 7 rebounds, 2 steals), who missed the season finale due to a concussion suffered in the Lake Region game, provided the Raiders with a jumpstart early in the fourth quarter with her hustle inside the lane. She scored the team’s first four points to trim the deficit to six points.

Fryeburg’s continued determination to attack the interior of Marshwood’s defense paid dividends as FA shooters went to the foul line 10 times in the fourth quarter, sinking seven shots.

But while the Raiders were shooting free throws, Bisson and Elora Montgomery drained big outside jumpshots to push the Hawk lead to double digits with 2:19 left in the game.

Senior Kaylin Delaney provided some late game fireworks with a bank shot off the glass and connected on a three-pointer with under a minute left to play. Unfortunately, Delaney suffered an ankle injury when her right foot grazed a defender’s sneaker after her jumpshot.

Bennett also closed out her FA hoop career by knocking down a three-pointer with 23.5 seconds left to cut the Hawk lead to 38-32.

Bisson, the closer, put the finishing touches on a night when the rookie arrived on the big stage, sinking a pair of foul shots with 17.7 seconds left.

“We felt we were always in the game, if we could get it to four points, I thought the youth on Marshwood might show a little bit,” Coach Watson said. “To their credit, they made big shots when they needed to. Our defense has kept us in games all year long. My kids have been great defenders since they were young. They show grit and determination, but tonight they just couldn’t quite get over the hump on the offensive side.”

Ali Fraize (left) and Mackenzie Buzzell defend the hoop.

Coach Watson was proud of the effort his club brought every day at practice, at games and in their playoff appearance.

“I’ve been so lucky that every player all play hard. Not all coaches are lucky enough to have that type of player,” Coach Watson said. “They have a lot of character and a lot of grit. For our seniors, it was a nice run, making the playoffs all four years. In 44 years of basketball, there have been four teams that have made the playoffs all four years. To her credit, Kenzie started all of those four post-season games. It’s been a great group.”

The Raiders finished 9-10.

Stat sheet

Field goals: FA 10-39, 25.6%; Marshwood 12-34, 35.3%

Free throws: FA 10-21, M 14-21

Turnovers: FA 15, M 17

Rebounds: FA 24, M 27

FA scorers: Ali Fraize 1

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