Firecrackers Win 4 AAU State Championships
The Firecrackers 13U team that won the 8th and 9th grade State AAU titles in consecutive weeks.
The second weekend of AAU State Championship play ended Sunday (May 9) with the Firecrackers winning 4 State titles. Below are the overall results and recaps:
- 5th Grade Division– State Champs
- 6th Grade Division– State Champs
- 7th Grade Division – 3rd Place
- 8th Grade Division– State Champs
- 9th Grade Division – State Champs (won by 8th Grade team)
- 11th Grade Division – 2nd Place (9th grade team playing 2 age divisions up)
5th Grade Recap
Coached by Joe Ingegneri and Mike Seltzer, the 5th grade (10u) team defeated the Maniacs 22-20 on a floater by Alex Hart with 9 seconds remaining in their first pool play game before defeating the Yes team by 3 the next morning. In the final, it was a rematch with Yes and Firecracker Ingegneri found themselves in a 9-2 hole early as they struggled against an unusual and suspect diamond and one zone. The team showed great determination, however, and behind strong post play from Kate Kane with assistance from Grace Dimmick battled back to get in the game. As the game wore on, the Firecrackers figured out the zone and passed the ball patiently for good looks leading to baskets by Kane, stellar guard Candace Powers, and Natalie Taylor. On the defensive end, the Scarboro trio of Taylor, Emily McNally, and Sophie Glidden played suffocating defense and created numerous turnovers and outlets to Alex Hart, who used her explosive speed and deft ballhandling for several key layups. A couple key foul shots by Glidden and another late basket by Hart sealed the Championship for the Firecrackers 20-17. Other team members who contributed throughout the season were Lydia Giguerre, Natalie Birkel, and Camille Clement.
6th Grade Recap
Coached by Heather Hart and Joe Aube, the 6th grade (11u) girls cruised to an easy victory in their first pool play game vs. MB Nation 31-8. Next they defeated Black Bear North 40-32 behind 12 points from Katasia Titherington and 9 from Tracy Townsend before downing the Maniacs 41-30 with a monster game from Titherington (16 points) and dominant post play from Emily Esposito and Adelaide Cooke (11 points). In the final, the Firecrackers jumped ahead 25-19 behind 10 first half points (2 3’s) from Lish Aube and maintained a comfortable 39-31 lead against the Maniacs with 7 minutes remaining before Susie Bessey hit two 3 pointers and a foul shot for the Maniacs to make it a 1 point game with a minute remaining. Lish Aube and Lydia Henderson each hit key foul shots in the next minute and the Firecrackers won their second consecutive AAU State Title. Ballhandling by Henderson and steady guard Molly Chapin were key as were outstanding defensive efforts from Alaina Birkel and Moira Train. Lauren Chadwick and Brooke Malone provided their normal hustle, intensity, and unselfishness.
7th Grade Recap
Coach Mars stepped in to lead the troops in Coach Seavey’s absence and the Firecrackers got off to a rough start and lost to a pretty good Icebreakers team before bouncing back and collecting a win Saturday afternoon against the MB Nation Howes team. That win set up a showdown with the Maniacs in the semifinal. These two teams met in the Championship game last year, with the Firecrackers coming out on top by 14 points. The Maniacs press forced numerous turnovers and the Firecrackers weren’t able to close the gap as they lost steam and lost the game. The team bounced back and captured third place, however. Juliana Dunlap, Sadie Nelson, and Jess Willerson all scored in double figures, while Regan Mars, Margaret Hatch, and Bethany Ashley also contributed to the scoring column. Mary Farnkoff ran the point in her normal steady fashion while Annabelle Elvidge used her blazing speed to create numerous turnovers. Caroline DeNoia and Maddie Mullett played lock down defense in the post and rebounded well for the Firecrackers. As usual, Julia Brogan and Katie Herzig used their athleticism and energy for strong play throughout the weekend. Alexis Ewald’s hard work on her individual skills was again apparent as she played solid fundament basketball and was always ready to help the team in any manner requested. The powerful post duo of Willerson and Nelson combined for 14 rebounds. Coach Seavey’s crew has a “never quit” attitude and will be motivated to bounce back next weekend.
8th Grade Recap
The Brian Clement and Doug Adams coached 8th graders started pool play with a decisive 62-7 win over MB Nation Howes behind 15 points from Sarah Clement and 8 each from Ashley “Stretch” Storey and Camille “Sparky” Giardina. In the second game vs. the Bangor Ballaz the defensive pressure applied by Katie McCrum, Bailey Adams, and Casey Simpson caused numerous turnovers leading to fast break opportunies for Clement (17 points), Giardina (15 points), and sharp shooter Abby Hamilton (6 points). In the third game against Black Bear North Sam Sparda and Vic Lux dominated the glass with help from Alexis Redmond and the team cruised to a 39-17 victory. Scoring was balanced with ten players getting on the board, including 8 from Ashley Storey and 6 from Katie McCrum. By finishing with 3 decisive wins in pool play the Firecrackers advanced to the finals against MB Nation Moran, a well coached and talented group of girls. The Firecrackers led by just four at halftime as Hawxwell hit two three’s late and both starting Firecracker guards were in foul trouble. In the second half, team orange got quick baskets from Lux, Simpson, and Adams off Giardina steals and extended the lead to twenty before securing the Championship 45-29. Lux led the scoring parade with 12, while McCrum added 8 points and 7 rebounds. Amber Richards played with great energy and provided the highlight play of the weekend with a beautiful ball fake and step through finishing left to go with her 8 rebounds and 2 blocked shots.
9th Grade Recap
With the Briggs 9th grade team playing in the 11th division, the 8th grade Firecracker Clement team decided to accept the challenge of playing up an age group. In the first game vs. MB Nation Bell (well liked by Firecracker coaches, players, and parents alike) Jordan Agger started the half with 3 quick baskets but Sparky Giardina wreaked havoc defensively leading to 13 points. Sarah Clement scored 8 and Casey Simpson played her normal tenacious defense and added 6. In the second game the Firecrackers didn’t have much trouble with Black Bear North despite 16 points from McKenzie Worcester. Clement (4 three balls) and Giardina led the team with 18 and 16 points respectively. Abby Hamilton also drained 2 long 3 pointers and the final score was 53-41. In the third game the women in orange jumped out to a quick lead on baskets by Hamilton, McCrum, and Giardina. Hamilton led all scorers with 10 points, while Sam Sparda collected 9 rebounds as the Firecrackers prevailed 44-23.
The Championship game was a great battle with the Nokomis area Warriors, a perimeter oriented team with several talented players who shoot well. Once again, the Firecrackers jumped out to a nice lead (10 points) before the Warriors closed the gap to make it 24-23 at halftime. The Warriors took the lead at 42-40 when a basket from Giardina to Briggs tied it all at 40. A long 3 by the Warriors put them up by an equal amount before a power layup off a nice pass from Giardina to Clement and a foul shot by Briggs tied it up. Giardina collected another assist by finding Clement for a 3 to put the Firecrackers back in the lead. Victoria Lux came up huge in the game overall, going 9-12 from the foul line and had a monster block late in the game. With 9 seconds left and up by one with the Warriors in possession of the ball Giardina seemingly was shot out of a gun and came up with a terrific steal and clutch play(reminiscent of Havlicek) to prevent a game winning shot by the Warriors, a very good and well coached team. Lux lead the Firecrackers with 11, Clement added 10, Briggs 9, and the Greely duo of Giardina and Storey added 7 each. Katie McCrum and Briggs did a great job containing Warriors leading scorer Kylie Richards to 2 field goals.
11th Grade Recap
The 9th Grade Briggs Firecrackers took on the monumental task of competing in the 11th grade division. As far as we know, something that has not been attempted before in a Maine girls AAU State Championship. The Firecrackers came out of the gate strong, with an impressive win against a well coached and loaded MB Nation team with the likes of future college players Sarah Assante, Division I prospect Megan Pelletier, and Mary Badeen, to name a few. Allie Clement led the team with 15 points while Olivia Smith had a double double (12 points and 10 rebounds). Nina Davenport contributed 7 points and 7 rebounds. In the second game, the squad had little trouble with Black Bear North as they jumped out to a commanding lead and never looked back. Clement and Smith led the scoring again with 17 and 15 while Brianne Maloney, Davenport, and Smith dominated the boards. The team struggled in the third game against a talented and former AAU State Champion Icebreakers team with many weapons, coming up short in a 4 point loss. Davenport knocked in 10 points while Olivia Shaw and Olivia Smith had 9 each. Ashley Briggs played her normal tenacious defense and dished out 4 assists. With 3 teams tied at 2-1 for the top two spots, the Firecrackers and MB Nation advanced to the title game on the tiebreaker. MB Nation took the lead early as the more aggressive team but Olivia Shaw stepped up big from an intensity standpoint (8 rebounds) and delivered two beautiful 3’s and a long range two to make it a 3 point game at the midpoint. In the second half the game went back and forth with key hoops from Olivia Smith, Allie Clement, and Nina Davenport. With 2 minutes left Olivia Smith hit a beautiful baby hook followed by a 3 from Clement and lead was cut to 1. On the next possession Nina Davenport sacrificed her body by drawing a gutsy charge but then the Firecrackers turned the ball over. Smith scored in the post again but it was followed by a Badeen 3, putting MB Nation back up by 2. Team orange had a chance to tie with 10 seconds left but were unable to capitalize and were forced to foul, losing by 4. The girls were disappointed they didn’t play their best basketball but it is a tribute to Coach Briggs and the girls that they competed at such a high level and nearly won despite not playing their best and playing up two grade levels. Next weekend they hope to bounce back and defend their East Coast Super Regional Championship.