Presque Isle Claims Division One Aroostook League Title on Sjoberg Buzzer Beater

It took every last second of game time, but the girls varsity basketball team came out victorious Monday in the Division One Aroostook League Championship game over Houlton.


Cameron Levasseur

The 13 members of the Presque Isle girls varsity basketball team celebrate with the plaque after their Aroostook League Championship win on Monday.

Cameron Levasseur, Sports Editor

Although there were no fans in the building, the championship atmosphere was still very much alive on Monday as the Houlton Shiretowners came to town to face off against Presque Isle in the Division One Aroostook League title match.

In the last meeting between these two teams on February 23rd, the Wildcats left Alumni Gymnasium in Houlton as the 16 point victor, that would not be the case tonight. A single digit lead throughout would not allow the home team to ever let off the gas, and it would take almost everything they had to win this one, by the score of 36-34, to be crowned champions once again.

From the opening possession, it was clear the Shires had come to play, but unfortunately for them, so had their opponent. The only group on the court seemingly not ready for game time was the referees, as some strange miscommunications within the first minute of the contest caused confusion for both sides. After that was out the window, the game really began to start rolling. The Wildcats jumped out to a quick 8-0 lead, which would turn out to be the largest by any team after 32 minutes, but it wouldn’t last for long, as Houlton was able to string two baskets together in quick succession to get right back into it. 

The second quarter, which began as a six point edge for Presque Isle, would turn into a back and forth battle for control between the top two seeds. The Shires would tie the game twice in the frame, but were unable to do more as the Wildcats salvaged a single basket advantage at the break. 

Several turnovers and missed shots to begin the second half would give the road team the chance they needed, as with five minutes left in the third quarter, it was Houlton who led. Several possessions later, they had put themselves squarely in the driver’s seat, sitting on a five point cushion as the scoreboard indicated the start of the final period. 

That margin would fail to hold for very long, however, as a passionate speech from Wildcat head coach Jeff Hudson rallied his crew, and back to back and-ones from senior Meg Casavant put the blue and white on top once again heading into crunch time. 

The Shires would eventually tie the game back up after a free throw make of their own. So with 6.6 seconds left on the clock, the ball was inbounded to junior Faith Sjoberg, who drove the length of the court and floated one up from 15 feet to put the game on ice and sink the Shires.

“When we were down by five in the fourth quarter, I said there was a lot of game left,” remarked Hudson after the win. “I told them that this is where champions are made, right here. It doesn’t matter if it’s for the Aroostook Championship or the Northern Maine Championship, cream rises to the top, and we certainly did. We did a lot of things to give the game away, but we made the plays at the end that we needed to. Houlton played great. It’s hard to beat a good team four times, and they were a good team.”

Sjoberg led all scorers with 15 in the game, followed by Casavant, who had 8, and senior Rhylee Kinney, who put up 5.

While tonight was indeed a championship game, the season is still not yet over for the Wildcats, as they will meet Southern Aroostook for the overall Aroostook League title Wednesday evening, in a clash between the Divison One and Two winners.