Ellsworth makes Camden Hills' first trip to CIC short oneNo. 10 Eagles fly past No. 2 Windjammers 71-62 at new Cross Insurance Center
Bangor — For the second time in less than a week, the upstart Ellsworth boys basketball stunned and eliminated a Midcoast opponent from the Eastern Class B tournament, spoiling first Medomak Valley's and now Camden Hills' dreams of extended playoff success.
The No. 10 Eagles (11-9) shook off a one-point halftime deficit to surge to a convincing 71-62 victory over No. 2 Camden Hills (15-4) on Friday night, Feb. 14, to make the Windjammers' initial trip to the new Cross Insurance Center a brief one.
Watch video below.
While it may have been a little more fun for Midcoast basketball fans if rivals Camden Hills and Medomak Valley had played in the quarterfinal playoff instead, the Windjammers, and their followers, had to settle for being embroiled in a competitive 32-minute clash with pesky Ellsworth instead.
And, in the end, the surging Eagles spoiled the Windjammers' postseason party and dreams.
With the victory, Ellsworth will play in the semifinals on Wednesday, Feb. 19 at 2:05 p.m. at the same venue against No. 6 Old Town (15-5), which upset No. 3 Mount Desert Island (14-5) 57-44 in another quarterfinal clash Friday afternoon.
The Coyotes also defeated No. 11 Waterville (11-8) 73-44 in a prelim playoff game. Ellsworth also beat No. 7 Medomak Valley (10-9) 47-44 in a prelim playoff game on Feb. 11 in Waldoboro.
Thus, after the weekend play, the Nos. 1, 2 and 3 squads headed home for the remainder of the winter, including the Windjammers.
Camden Hills does not play Ellsworth or Old Town during the regular season.
The CIC replaces the fabled Bangor Auditorium as the Eastern Maine high school basketball tournament site.
Ellsworth led 12-9 after one quarter, but trailed 24-23 at halftime and 45-42 after three stanzas before outscoring the Windjammers 29-17 over the final eight minutes.
On Friday night for Camden Hills, Chandler Crans tallied 16 points; Jayson Kuhn, 13; John Hall, nine; Terron Bailey and Colin Morse, eight; Connor Graffam, six; and Andrew Hall, two. The Windjammers made six 3-pointers, including two each from Crans, Bailey and Kuhn, and 14-of-24 free throws (58 percent).
In the first half, Kuhn had 10 points and Crans nine. The Windjammers netted 9-of-18 free throws (50 percent) in the first 16 minutes.
For Ellsworth, Bryce Harmon tossed in 20 points; Nick Bagley, 19; Bryce St. Peter, 10; Griffin Nightingale, eight; Steven Mahon, seven; Mitchell Domagala and Alex Braley, both three; and Derek Look, one. The Eagles netted seven 3-pointers, including four from Bagley, and 24-of-33 free throws (73 percent) — 14-of-19 (74 percent) in the pivotal fourth quarter.
Harmon, a freshman, netted 14-of-15 free throws (93 percent), including 11-of-11 in the second half, 8-of-8 in the final eight minutes.
Veteran Camden Hills coach Jeff Hart did not pull any punches after the game.
“I do not think we could have played any worse than we did tonight,” he said “I’ll do all my good stuff and say hats off to Ellsworth, they played great, good for them, young guys. But we were horrible. There’s no other way about it. We weren’t together, we didn’t play D[efense] and we didn’t rebound. Those three things right there, you’re not going to win many games if you don’t do those things.”
Morse, the KVAC Class B player of the year, was hampered by foul trouble for much of the first half, seeing limited minutes on the court for the Windjammers.
Ellsworth led for much of the first half, but the Windjammers went on a 10-3 run to end the second quarter on six points from Kuhn and four more from Crans. Kuhn made a steal at midcourt and laid in a hoop off the glass with four seconds remaining.
Hart said despite the shift in momentum toward the end of the first half, "We were lucky to be where we were."
“We played a pretty pathetic first half so to be ahead at halftime was like, 'OK, maybe we can get over the hump,’ but not to be.”
Both teams battled back and forth throughout the third quarter, but it was the Eagles who made the big plays and capitalized on a handful of Windjammer turnovers and essentially ran away with the game.
The Eagles scored the first eight points of the quarter on a driving hoop from Mahon to cut their deficit to 45-44. The Windjammers then turned the ball over on three straight possessions, which led to hoops from St. Peter and Nightingale and a pair of free throws from Harmon.
Morse then hit the bench with his fourth foul with 6:01 remaining.
The Windjammers cut their deficit to 50-49 after an Andrew Hall hoop and two free throws from John Hall, but Bagley netted a trey with 3:45 left to push Ellsworth's lead back to six points.
John Hall converted a three-point play to pull the Windjammers within 55-52 but the locals could get no closer as the Eagles began to play stall ball over the final three minutes of the game and were nearly perfect from the charity stripe.
Camden Hills got late 3-pointers from Kuhn and Bailey, but the sharp shooting of Harmon and Bagley from the foul line helped Ellsworth pull off the upset.