In Midcoast showdown, ball bounces Panthers' way against rival WindjammersMurray scores 25 points as Medomak Valley boys hold off pesky Camden Hills
Bangor — In a court showdown between two equally-talented high school boys basketball squads, sometimes the contest comes down to which team gets the game’s strange bounces.
In the case of top-seeded Medomak Valley, saddled with the arduous task of trying to dispatch pesky eighth-ranked Camden Hills for the third time this season, that is exactly what played out Saturday night, Feb. 16 at the fabled Bangor Auditorium.
The Panthers and Windjammers played a tight game for the full 32 minutes and, in the end, Medomak Valley retained possession on a pair of missed free throws in the final 30 seconds and survived with a 52-47 Eastern Class B quarterfinal playoff victory over Camden Hills.
See video below.
The win gives the Panthers (17-2) a three-game season sweep over the Windjammers (13-7) and a berth in the regional semifinals on Wednesday, Feb. 20 at 8:35 p.m. at the Bangor Auditorium, where they will face No. 13 Foxcroft Academy.
The Ponies, who nabbed the final seed in the tourney on the final day of the regular season, ousted No. 4 Oceanside of Rockland/Thomaston in a prelim playoff Feb. 13 in Rockland and knocked off No. 5 Caribou in a quarterfinal playoff contest Saturday afternoon in Bangor.
The Panthers defeated the Windjammers twice this season — a 63-60 decision Dec. 11 in Waldoboro and an epic 95-91, four-overtime victory Jan. 31 in Rockport.
“They’re a good team, good program, very well-coached and we knew we had to come in here and take care of the ball and mentally play smart,” said Medomak Valley coach Nick DePatsy of the Windjammers. “And there were times where we didn’t. I think in the second half we executed better. We had a couple turnovers, but we hit our free throws down the stretch.”
“We knew it was going to be [back-and-forth],” said Camden Hills coach Jeff Hart. “Whoever took a lead first, the other team was going to get back in the game. That’s the way these games go. It didn’t surprise me that they were back in it. It just came down to who executed best down the stretch and they did that.”
It seemed in the game’s waning minutes that the two squads may be destined for their second overtime game in 2 1/2 weeks, but Medomak Valley persevered in regulation.
With the Panthers leading 49-47 with less than 30 seconds to play, sophomore guard Micah Williamson netted the first of two free-throw attempts, missing the second, though the ball went off a Windjammer defender and out of bounds with 25.9 seconds remaining.
Medomak Valley inbounded the ball and Williamson was fouled a second time, again hitting 1-of-2 free throws, rimming out the second attempt.
There was a scrum on the floor for the ball, which went out of bounds off a Windjammer player for the second time with 16.6 seconds remaining, with the Panthers leading 51-47.
Panther John Murray then netted 1-of-2 at the line with 2.8 seconds remaining to clinch the victory.
“You’ve got to get some breaks,” said DePatsy. “And we got some breaks. And we know it.”
“Sometimes that just happens,” said coach Hart. “We’ve had the ball bounce our way up here before so, I guess the Bangor Auditorium gods got to us today.”
Camden Hills jumped out to an 11-3 lead and led 16-15 after the first quarter, while the two teams were knotted 23-23 at halftime. Medomak Valley then took a 37-34 lead after three quarters.
The game was a physical one to be sure, with the two teams combining to commit 53 fouls. Camden Hills played the entire fourth quarter with starters Colin Morse, Jayson Kuhn and Connor Hart each playing with four fouls, forcing coach Hart to go deep into his bench to spare some of his team’s top offensive players.
The Windjammers, characteristically a solid free-throw shooting team, netted only 16-of-33 attempts (48 percent).
Medomak Valley was 21-of-32 (66 percent) from the charity stripe, while Murray was 12-of-16 from the line on his own and 9-of-12 in the second half.
The 6-foot-8-inch senior center finished the game with 25 points and 15 rebounds to lead all scorers.
“We knew this third time they had a grudge [against us],” said Murray of the Windjammers. “Obviously our other two games were pretty close. We had a four-overtime game where it was 95-91 and this time we knew they wanted us and we just had to execute.”
Also scoring for the Panthers were Nicholas DePatsy with eight points, Jonathan Hendrickson-Belloguet seven and Micah Williamson and Ryan Ripley, both six. DePatsy, the coach’s son, netted two treys in the first half. Ripley also grabbed seven rebounds.
For the Windjammers, who also pushed No. 1 Mount Desert Island to the limit as the eighth seed last year, Kuhn tallied 17 points; Connor Hart, 13; Chandler Crans, 10; Morse, four; and Connor Graffam, three. Camden Hills netted three treys. Graffam and Terron Bailey both nabbed five rebounds and Kuhn four boards.
Camden Hills sailed out of the gate and scored the game’s first six points as Medomak Valley committed three straight turnovers before Murray scored to stop the run. Crans scored six of the team’s first eight points before he buried a 3-pointer from the top of the key to put the Windjammers ahead 11-3 with 4:28 left.
“In the first quarter when we were down 10 points or so, we called a timeout and we realized we had to change something,” said Murray. “We had to go down low and get to the rim more. They started to turn it over, we corrected and the game was right there.”
Nicholas DePatsy netted a 3-pointer to bring the Panthers within 14-13 in the first quarter, another later to make it 20-19 in the second quarter and gave the team its first lead at the foul line with a pair of free throws with 1:21 left in the first half to put Medomak Valley ahead 23-21.
The teams battled back and fourth in the fourth quarter as Camden Hills rattled off six straight points to tie the game 40-40 on a Kuhn layup, two Connor Hart free throws and a Morse jumper with 4:40 left, but Hendrickson-Belloguet converted a three-point play seconds later to put the Panthers back up by three points.
Kuhn then tied the game 43-43 on a trey from the wing with 3:10 left, but Medomak Valley outscored Camden Hills 9-4 the rest of the way to emerge victorious.
Now the Panthers must prepare for the Ponies, a team that defeated Medomak Valley in the preseason and hence will not be taken lightly.
“They’re not your typical 13th seed,” said coach DePatsy. “I know their coach real well, they’re a team that’s been successful in football, successful in baseball [and] the [Ryan] Rebar kid is as good an athlete as they come.”
“That was a long time ago, but we’re not looking over them,” said Murray in reference to the Panthers' preseason loss to the Ponies. “They’re the No. 13 seed but we’re going to treat them like they’re number one.”
Courier Publications Associate Sports Director Mark Haskell can be reached at 207-594-4401 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.