15U falls in final game at Deep South, finishes 2-2

Late pressure causes Firecrackers to fall short against Maryland Tigers, 41-34

The 15u Maine Firecrackers lost a competitive game to the Maryland Lady Tigers 16u in the final game of the Deep South classic today, with the final score 41-34. Paige Cote got the Mainers on the board early with strong finishes courtesy of Madison Blanche and Caroline Smith assists. Blanche followed her dime with a steal and layup to make the score 10-10. After Kaleisha Towle hit a baseline jump shot and Smith rattled in a foul line jumper using a Solid Jacqui Hamilton screen to make it 13-12, the rest of the offense in the half came from Cote, the rapidly improving 6’2” sophomore from Sanford. Maryland went to the brief (60 seconds) intermission up 22-19.

The second half was a battle of wills with the Lady Tigers utilizing full and half court pressure on every possession. The combination of Amy Fleming, Blanche, Smith, and Adele Nadeau worked well together to break the pressure but it made things challenging on offense with little rest for the weary. After a layup and long three pulled Maryland ahead by 8 with 8 minutes remaining, the Firecrackers buckled down on defense and went back to the well with Paige Cote, who responded with two baskets making the score 36-34. Unfortunately Maryland’s pressure led to three consecutive turnovers and the opportunity slipped away, with the Firecrackers dropping to 2-2 after a 41-34 final score.

The game and weekend was a coming out party of sorts for a few players, most notably Cote, who finished with 18 hard fought points today against a very physical center. Freshman Adele Nadeau finished with 7 points and also impressed throughout the weekend and Caroline Smith was limited to 5 points but emerged as an excellent offensive weapon. Her offensive prowess combined with her ability to defend bodes well for her future. Kaleisha Towle only connected on one basket in the final but emerged as the vocal team leader while filling the stat sheet with rebounds, steals, and assists on top of getting the defensive assignment on the opponents best player. Madison Blanche (2 points and 5 rebounds today) and Amy Fleming (3 assists) were warriors all weekend sharing the primary point guard responsibilities while Jacqui Hamilton contributed with her physical play and soft mid range touch. Freshman Glory Blethen made the most of her minutes after getting moved up from the regional team for the weekend with some excellent post entries to Cote to go with a few key hoops, rebounds and a very timely blocked shot in game 3 that helped secure the win.

Despite playing without three of the teams top players (Davina Kabantu, Amanda Kabantu, and Gemima Motema) and playing up in the bottom of the 17u division, the Firecrackers showed excellent character and grit competing well against good teams with outstanding athleticism. Several college coaches were complimentary throughout the weekend. In attendance were Marist, Holy Cross, UMaine, UNH, Loyola, Bates, St John’s, Bryant, Florida Gulf Coast, Quinipiac, Dartmouth, and Harvard to name a few.

Special thanks to Coach Bowers for all his dedication to the girls, Coach Briggs for his tireless efforts, Will Blanche for doing the scorebook, and all the parents for representing us well and sacrificing for the girls to participate.