Phantoms ground Eagles, repeat as state champs
Against top-seeded Proctor, however, the clock finally struck midnight.
The Phantoms held Arlington to 12 second-half points en route to a 55-38 victory on Saturday afternoon to secure their second-straight D-IV title.
"That was the key for this game -- who played better defense," said Proctor (21-2) coach Chris Hughes. "We got the run of defensive stops, got some easier shots and put them on their heels."
After scoring 23 in the semifinal against West Rutland, senior Rayleen Sherman was held to five points, all free throws, in the championship. Also, sophomore Molly Elwell, the team's leading scorer during the year, was held scoreless.
"That's 12 to 15 points to try to find somewhere else. With Ray locked down, working her butt off on defense, that doesn't bode well for us," said Arlington (14-9) coach Larry Andrews.
In the first half, it looked like the game would come down to the final possession as both teams were connecting from the field.
Proctor senior Megan Carter (six points, eight rebounds and five steals) gave the Phantoms an early five-point edge with a layup, but a Becca Solari jumper and Brooke Hawley trey with 22 seconds left in the period tied it 14-14 after one quarter.
Proctor then edged ahead in the second quarter, finishing the half on an 15-8 run as Arlington started to turn the ball over. Freshman Abby McKearin came off the bench and contributed immediately, scoring all six of her points in the frame.
"We lost all the mojo, we had them going in the first quarter and a half," Andrews said. "Ray was in foul trouble, but we hung on. I don't know if the bright lights got us, but we started crumbling.
"We started to panic a little bit, maybe we were trying to do too much."
Senior Carissa Elrick led the way for Proctor, who won their final nine games in a row. She scored 18 points and grabbed six rebounds, while Jordan Mitchell added 11 points and six boards. Alyssa Valerio chipped in with 10 as well for the Phantoms.
"We wanted to attack, get them down and they'd press," Hughes said. "We started to move our feet and have better vision of the court [in the second half]."
Arlington was led by sophomore Julia Lacoste's 12 points, all but one of which came in the first half. She also led the team with 10 rebounds to record her fifth straight double-double. Hawley added eight points and Jennah Lacoste scored seven points, all the first 16 minutes.
"Julia was on a mission, she played a great game," Andrews said.
Leading by seven at intermission, the Phantoms came out fast, going on an 8-0 run to put the Eagles into a 15-point hole. At the same time, Sherman was called for her fourth foul, a charge with 2:45 left in the third, forcing Andrews to take out his standout forward.
"Give Proctor credit, they had more energy in the second half," Andrews said.
In the fourth, the Eagles made a valiant attempt at a comeback, with Hawley hitting a basket and making a free throw soon after, but Proctor was too strong as junior Jordan Mitchell knocked down two layups to seal it for the Phantoms.
"After [winning] this last year, we had the bulls-eye and accepted that," Hughes said. "We had the opportunity to play a good game, and we did today."
Despite the title game defeat, Sherman praised her teammates for reaching the final.
"We were shaky at the beginning of the year at 0-4, but couldn't ask for a better team," said an emotional Sherman moments after the final buzzer. "I'm just glad we got here. We played hard, which all I could ask for, it is what it is."
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