Defense thwarts offense: Hermon upsets Oceanside in overtimeNo. 1 Mariners knocked from regional tournament by No. 8 Hawks
Bangor — The new Cross Insurance Center, in its first year as host of the Eastern Maine high school basketball tournaments, can now officially be called upset central — after only two days.
That is because yet another higher-ranked team was eliminated from the Eastern Class B boys tourney by a lower-seeded opponent.
This time, No. 1 Oceanside of Rockland/Thomaston saw its title dreams dashed by No. 8 Hermon in a quarterfinal playoff battle on Saturday afternoon, Feb. 15 at the CIC. The Hawks won 68-63 in overtime.
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Unbelievably, No. 1 Oceanside, No. 2 Camden Hills and No. 3 Mount Desert Island must wonder if there is something in the air at the new tourney site, as all three have been ousted from the tourney.
Perhaps the Mariners, Windjammers and Trojans secretly yearn for the another few years of tourney games at the now demolished but fabled Bangor Auditorium?
On Saturday, defensive-minded Hermon held the high-scoring Mariners to one point in the first quarter and led 22-21 at halftime before the Hawks outlasted the Mariners in overtime.
Oceanside finished 17-3 overall, including winning the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class B championship, while Hermon improved to 12-8, including a 47-30 prelim playoff victory over No. 9 Presque Isle (9-10).
Hermon will play No. 4 Caribou (16-4), which beat No. 5 Winslow (16-4) 63-61 in another quarterfinal playoff game Saturday (and secured a 67-44 prelim win over No. 13 Gardiner), on Wednesday, Feb. 19 at 3:35 p.m. in a semifinal playoff clash at the CIC.
Thus, the Eastern Class B semifinals will include the Nos. 4, 6, 8 and 10 teams.
The Mariner loss came less than 24 hours after Midcoast-rival Camden Hills, the second seed, lost 71-62 to No. 10 Ellsworth (12-9) in a quarterfinal game. No. 6 Old Town (15-5) also bested No. 3 MDI (14-5) 57-44 on Friday.
On Saturday, the Hawks simply had too much Tyler Thayer, as he proved unstoppable with 40 points against Oceanside. The Mariners also were held without a field goal in the first quarter.
“We started off pretty bad,” said veteran Oceanside coach Matt Breen. “It took us a while to get adjusted and get the jitters out. We played pretty well in spurts and then battled foul trouble. We had to keep switching people in and out on Thayer."
After falling behind 11-1 after the first quarter, the Mariners had to dig out of a hole and appeared to do that to avoid the upset during regulation. However, Thayer put the Hawks on his shoulders down the stretch and carried the upstarts to the victory.
Hermon led 22-21 at halftime before Oceanside took a 33-30 cushion after three quarters. The game was tied 63-63 at the end of regulation.
Oceanside was paced by Isaiah Stone-Patterson with 23 points and David Gould 20. Nick Judge also added 11 points; Hunter Grindle, five; and Nick Mazurek and Jarrod Leonardi, both two.
The Mariners netted six 3-pointers, including three from Stone-Patterson, and made 15-of-22 free throws (68 percent), including 6-of-8 from Stone-Patterson and 5-of-7 from Gould.
For Hermon, Thayer was simply immense. He tossed in 40 points, with only one trey, but made 17-of-25 free throws (69 percent) and 10 overall field goals. He was relatively quiet in the early going, as he collected five points each in the first and second quarters, three in the third and then really went to work. Thayer netted 18 points in the fourth stanza and nine in the crucial overtime. He made 12-of-17 foul shots (71 percent) during the fourth quarter and OT.
“We knew he was going to score, we just didn’t know if anyone else was going to,” said Breen. “I thought we had a few tough calls against us down the stretch. The one where it looked like Gould blocked his shot. He might have got him, I don’t know. And the one he hit on the baseline and they said Keenan [Hendricks] got him. A couple tough, tough calls that I thought we played pretty good D[efense] on.”
Also scoring for the Hawks were Ryan Kelly and Joe Plummer, both with nine points; T.J. Verrill, six; and Dante Bennett and Tyler Beaton, two. Hermon made three treys and a whopping 23-of-34 foul shots (68 percent).
Oceanside was held without a field goal in the first quarter as Hermon scored the game’s first nine points on a pair of hoops from Thayer and one each from Beaton and Kelly, along with a Thayer free throw before a Gould foul shot with 2:43 left to put the region’s top seed on the board.
The Mariners got their first field goal with 7:02 left in the half on a baseline jumper from Mazurek.
Thayer picked up his third foul midway through the second quarter but played the entire game, as he finished with four fouls.
Oceanside outscored Hermon 21-10 in the second quarter and tied the game late in the stanza on a trey from Grindle, but a Thayer free throw gave the Hawks a one-point lead after the first 16 minutes.
The Mariners took their first lead at 23-22 on a Gould field goal in the paint about 30 seconds into the third quarter.
The Mariners looked to pull away from the Hawks down the stretch in the fourth quarter, leading by as many as seven points, spearheaded by a four-point play from Judge.
Stone-Patterson with 1:38 left in regulation gave Oceanside its largest lead of the game at 50-43 after a pair of free throws.
However, the Hawks outscored the Mariners 10-3 from that point with Thayer scoring all 10 points on a pair of three-point plays, a bank shot and a pair of free throws, the latter of which came with 10.1 second left in regulation, and tied the game.
Oceanside missed several free throws in the game’s waning minutes, which allowed the Hawks to get back into the game.
The Hawks were 9-of-13 (69 percent) from the line in overtime, including 7-of-10 (70 percent) from Thayer.
Judge and Gould played much of the fourth quarter with four fouls. Hendricks fouled out late in the fourth quarter, while Judge and Gould fouled out in overtime as they were responsible for trying to bottle up Thayer down the stretch.
Breen said: “We had some opportunities to finish the game, and we just didn’t.”
“There’s not much you can say,” the coach said. “I just want to thank the seniors for all they did. The four of them [Gould, Judge, Stone-Patterson and Grindle], you couldn’t ask for better leaders. They’re great kids, role models on and off the court. I couldn’t ask for a better group to be with. I just feel bad it ended like this.”
The game was a classic contrast in styles as a strong defense prevailed over a stellar offense (similar to the Seattle Seahawks against the Denver Broncos in the NFL's Super Bowl).
In fact, during the regular season, Hermon allowed 45.6 points per game and Oceanside averaged 73.1 points.
The Eastern Class B semifinals will have all Big East teams and the regional final will not be won by a KVAC team for the first time since the 1999-2000 season as that year was won by Hermon.
Another interesting tourney tidbit, Mark Reed coaches Hermon, while his father, legendary Bangor High School basketball coach Roger Reed, is one of three volunteer assistants on the Hawk squad.
Medomak Valley was the defending regional champion, but the Panthers were eliminated by Ellsworth in a prelim playoff game.