The Easton High School girls knew what they accomplished was rare and special and they poked a little fun at it on their warm-up shirts.
The Bears qualified for the Class D North Tournament in Bangor for the first time since 1991 so the back of their warm-up shirts read “26 years later.”
Junior forward Delia Bonner was credited with slogan and head coach Bryan Shaw said that was the one selected by the players among a handful of choices.
“The team in the locker room is only the fourth team to have ever played in the tournament,” said Shaw whose fourth-seeded girls advanced to the semifinals with a 45-23 victory over fifth seed Deer Isle-Stonington on Monday night at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor. “There was the ’78 team, the ’88 team and the ’91 team.
“This meant a lot to the girls … to know they had the confidence to come down here. It has been a long time coming. There were a lot of prelims lost. It’s kind of not gone in our favor but it’s finally time, it’s finally their time,” said the fourth-year coach.
“It’s very exciting because some of the girls on our team’s mothers played on teams that went to the tournament,” said junior guard Isabelle Morin. “It’s exciting for them to see their daughters playing. We’re all really happy we’re here.”
“It’s great that everyone can come out and see us,” said senior forward Sara Gilman. “We were so happy when we saw we were fourth (in the final Heal Point standings). We were really ecstatic. Everyone was so crazy about it. It’s great to be here.”
By finishing fourth, it meant the Bears earned a bye to the quarterfinal round of the tournament and didn’t have to play a preliminary game.
“It’s a big deal to the community because it’s been 26 years,” said senior center Elise Allen. “Being able to come out here as females in a school where we aren’t very recognized for stuff that we do and to be able to do this means so much to us and to the girls behind us. We’re graduating six seniors this year but being able to show (the girls behind us), ‘Yeah, you can do this. Yeah, it doesn’t matter where you come from. You may be a small school but you can do this.'”
Easton (11-8) plays top seed Southern Aroostook of Dyer Brook (18-1) in Thursday’s 8:35 p.m. semifinal at the Cross Insurance Center.
Southern Aroostook won the two regular-season meetings.