BANGOR — The Ellsworth girls’ basketball team’s first game at the Cross Insurance Center in four years came against a buzzsaw.
Opposing Waterville was simply too much for the Eagles in Friday’s Class B North quarterfinal game at the Cross Insurance Center. The Panthers exploited a size advantage on both ends of the floor and sank 10 3-pointers to send Ellsworth to a 65-32 defeat.
“This wasn’t the result we wanted, but I’m really proud of what we’ve done,” Ellsworth head coach Andy Pooler said. “We played tough all season and really changed the program, and even though it didn’t go the way we want, getting here and getting to play on this floor was the cherry on top.”
After Waterville got off to a blazing start with two baskets in the first 15 seconds, Trinity Montigny hit a runner off the glass to put 10th-ranked Ellsworth (11-9) on the board. Yet the Panthers responded by combining efficient shooting on offense and a series of blocked shots on defense to score 17 of the next 19 points before Montigny converted a layup for the final points of the opening quarter.
Although Ellsworth found more of an offensive rhythm in the second quarter, No. 2 Waterville (18-1) would continue to control the game on the offensive end. The Panthers hit three more 3-pointers to stretch the lead to 33-14 before Ellsworth got a 3-pointer from Casey Carter and a layup from Montigny to end the half.
Waterville continued its offensive burst in the second half as it began the third quarter with a 10-0 run to stretch the lead to 24 points. Ellsworth would score the final six points of the third quarter, but the Panthers responded with a 23-point fourth to blow the game open and roll to their 15th consecutive victory.
Montigny had a team-high 15 points for Ellsworth, which got three apiece from Casey Carter, Samantha Carter and Robidoux and two apiece from Morgan Clifford, Alicia Kelley, Autumn Paul and Sara Shea. Sadie Garling led Waterville with 19 points.
The game came three days after Ellsworth earned a 35-33 win over Mount Desert Island at the buzzer in the Northern Maine preliminary round. Playing less than 72 hours after such an emotionally draining rivalry win was a major challenge, Pooler acknowledged, but he was not about to short-change Waterville’s remarkable performance.
“They’re favored to win it for a reason,” Pooler said. “They’re a great team, and they just did everything well. It is what it is, and you have to tip your cap to them.”
The loss marked the final career game for Montigny, a 1,000-point scorer and the Big East Conference’s scoring leader, and Kelley, who scored Ellsworth’s final points of the season late in the fourth quarter. Yet the Eagles will still have a sizable group back next year with Clifford and Casey Carter, sophomore Jocelyn Jordan and a seven-member junior class set to return.
“Getting to this game and getting to play on this floor is going to be a really good thing for the girls who are coming back, but those two seniors will definitely be missed,” Pooler said. “I just know I wouldn’t have wanted to coach any other group of kids.”