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Lady Cougars take see-saw contest
DIXFIELD -- The Dirigo girls' basketball team maintained its composure down the stretch behind big shots by Lauren Henderson and Jessica Conant in a 44-39 triumph against Mount Abram. The game was tied or changed sides nine times in the fourth quarter at Defoe Gymnasium.
It was the Roadrunners who had come alive to erase a double-digit deficit and regained the lead on a Tori Beane three pointer and a basket by Mikayla Luce with just over one minute left to play. A pair of free throws by Conant (13 points) provided the eventual winning points with 57.4 seconds left to play.
The Cougars helped their cause by making 13 of 24 free throws, including eight of 12 in the fourth quarter.
Dirigo used multiple rotations throughout the game and the strategy eventually paid off. ''We wanted to pound the ball inside,'' said Dirigo coach Reggie Weston. ''Mount Abram is bigger than us and have some good players. That's why I used so many different players and when each player came in, they contributed. This was a total team effort.''
Mount Abram had taken its first lead of the game on a Luce basket to make it 32-31 at the start of the fourth quarter. The Roadrunners were led by Miranda Smith (14 points) who had scored eight straight points to trail 27-25 late in the third quarter.
"We picked up the intensity in the second half,'' said Mount Abram coach Doug Lisherness, who is retiring after 29 years and two state championships at the end of the season. ''We had come out flat in the first half and I told the girls at halftime that there wasn't really any adjustments to make, except for the fact that Dirigo was out hustling and out playing us.''
A basket by Kelsey Hutchins (nine points) and a Kayla Gaudin (seven points) free throw, neutralized a Beane trey (eight points). The Cougars responded when Henderson was fouled underneath and calmly sank two free throws. The Roadrunners missed a shot and Henderson drained as trey from the top of the key.
"That was critical,'' said Weston, of the freshman stepping up. ''It was great to see because Lauren is going to be a big part of the team in the next few years. Hopefully this will give her a (much needed) confident boost.
The Cougars shot 28 percent and committed 13 turnovers in the game.