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Cougar girls edged by Jay, 41-39
DIXFIELD -- The opportunity was front and center, however, Dirigo couldn’t reach the top step in a regular season finale of a girls' basketball game.
The Lady Cougars held a slim two-point lead entering the fourth quarter, but Jay relied on Beth Moore, who scored a game-high 22 points and was equally solid from the free throw line in a 41-39 win over Dirigo at Defoe Gymnasium.
Senior Hannah Knight scored 12 of her team-high 16 points in the first half and Alyssa Wade scored eight points in the second half, but Dirigo lacked any offensive support necessary. The Cougars made two of eight shots and made four of 10 from the charity stripe in the fourth quarter.
“We finally were able to follow the game plan,” said Jay coach Chris Bessey. “It didn’t start out that well because Hannah Knight scored at will in the first half.”
Moore sparked a 7-0 run to put Jay ahead 37-32, before Knight made two free throws. Wade made a driving basket for Dirigo's first field goal with three minutes left in the fourth quarter. The Tigers made a pair of free throws (8-for-8 in the fourth quarter) and a basket to lead 41-36.
Dirigo sank one of two free throws and Paige Murphy hit a set shot with 53 seconds remaining. Jay whittled the clock down to 14.4 seconds.
“We needed to go to the hole,” said Dirigo coach Reggie Weston said, regarding the strategy down the stretch. “We went 5-on-5 (match-up). On our final possession, Hannah had a drive and she is good at knowing when to dish off. Erin Turner had a good look at the basket, but her shot was short.”
Turner was fouled with 4.4 seconds left. She missed the first free throw, so she drilled the second off the rim. Moore grabbed her 16th rebound as time expired. The Cougars committed five of their 17 turnovers down the stretch.
“We had been standing around watching their shooters earlier in the game,” said Bessey. “We were not rebounding, but we adjusted and started crashing the boards.”
Dirigo used several different combinations with Kayla Gaudin, Angela Ronan, Lexi Noyes, Natasha DesRoche, Lindsy Crutchfield, Ambyr Wilson and Miranda Shurtleff stole the ball and dribbled in for a lay-up as the buzzer sounded. Wilson drained a trey at the buzzer for a 23-23 score at halftime.