The Central Aroostook Panthers toppled the No. 1 Stearns Minutemen 61-55 Saturday night to earn a spot in the Class C state championship.

Junior Maci Beals led the No. 6 Panthers with 26 points in the regional final at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor.

After the game, Beals said the team's success in the tournament, which included a prelim victory and knocking off No. 2 Dexter, wasn't easy, but it was the result of hard work.

"We worked so hard in practice," Beals said after the game. "We deserved this."

Central Aroostook started strong, opening up a three-point head at the half and maintaining it after three quarters. The favored Minutemen couldn't close the gap as Beals and the Panthers kept up the pressure and came away with the win.

Junior guard Libby Grass added 13 points and senior Breann Bradbury had 12 points for the Panthers.

Stearns, which ends the season at 19-3, was led by senior captain Katherine Alley with 21 points. Katie Kenyon added 10 points.

Central Aroostook will play in for the Class C state title at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 29 at the Augusta Civic Center.

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