Island rumble: North Haven, Vinalhaven settle for rivalry splitHawk boys, Viking girls make strong playoff pushes
Vinalhaven — The North Haven boys basketball team is one of the hottest — and most successful — teams in Western Class D with the regional tournament only a few weeks away.
The Hawks took their show on the road Wednesday, Jan. 30 to neighboring Vinalhaven, a team that has historically had North Haven's number on the hardwood throughout the long rivalry between the schools.
In the end, it was the Hawks who soared to their 10th straight win, picking up the 55-39 victory.
The Vinalhaven and North Haven girls also squared off Wednesday on Vinalhaven, with the Vikings getting the best of the Hawks with a 54-33 win.
In the boys game, North Haven coach Roman Cooper said the win was crucial for his team's mental focus going into the playoffs as the island-rival Vikings always have been a challenge for the Hawks.
North Haven also defeated Vinalhaven 50-46 Dec. 12 at North Haven in the only other game between the two squads.
On Wednesday, North Haven led 14-8, 27-12 and 39-25 at the quarter breaks.
Leading the Hawks on offense was Avery Waterman with 18 points, while Zeb Campbell added 14; Aidan Emerson, 13; Dalton Hornby, six; and Chase MacDonald and Ethan Taylor, both two.
For Vinalhaven, Justin Newton netted 13 points, while Austin Christensen added eight; Ben Beckman, five; Scott James and Hayden Jones, both four; Shane Carlsen, three; and Byron Thomas, two.
The Hawks were 14-of-22 (63 percent) from the foul line, while the Vikings were 7-of-16 (44 percent).
North Haven jumped to a large lead in the first half and Vinalhaven called a few timeouts to try and stop the momentum, but the Hawks were flying high and the game was essentially out of reach at halftime.
"We were the better team," said Cooper. "They couldn’t keep up. By the third quarter they'd lost their legs and our kids were playing some pretty darn good defense."
"It was a tough game," said Vinalhaven coach Matt Slivinsky. "We didn't match the intensity that North Haven showed as far as the hustle part of it went. From the beginning of the game they got some quick buckets, we had some quick misses and it just rolled from there."
Vinalhaven battled back and cut its deficit to 10 points with about six minutes to go in the fourth quarter, but North Haven refocused and finished strong to pick up the win.
"I give all the credit to North Haven," said Slivinsky. "I credit their hustle and the way they played, we just came up short."
Cooper hopes the Hawks can ride the recent momentum into the postseason and hopefully, a deep run in the Western Class D playoffs.
"That’s the hope," he said. "This is a big mental win for these kids. They needed to go into Vinalhaven, into the bear's den so to speak, and get it done and they did. "
Cooper said his team missed at least 10 layups, which is something they will have to improve on before the quarterfinals.
"They've really got to buckle down and concentrate on finishing," Cooper said. "We can't keep depending on outside shooting if we expect to make a run."
The loss all but assures the Vikings will miss the regional playoffs, unless they can knock off Jonesport-Beals, the defending state Class D champions, in a pair of games this weekend.
The Royals have 6-foot-5-inch Garet Beal, a surefire Mr. Maine Basketball candidate, who already has committed to play basketball at Division I University of Maine in Orono next season.
Slivinsky and the Vikings know they have their work cut out for them if they hope to secure a playoff spot.
"We saw [Beal] last year and, of course [Jonesport-Beals], won the gold ball and they're a tough team," said Slivinsky. "They know he's 6-5, he's inside-outside and a great player, but they've got some other great players too. We're just going to go up there and do the best we can and who knows? Maybe we can get out of there with a win or two."
Vinalhaven is coming off trips to the regional final two of the last three years.
In the Maine Principals' Association Heal Point Standings for Western Class D, North Haven (13-2, 46.5605 points) is fourth, while Vinalhaven (4-11, 9.4408 points) is 11th. Forest Hills of Jackman (13-2, 69.2050 points) is first in the 14-team region. The top nine teams qualify for the playoffs. North Haven has beaten Forest Hills during the regular season.
In the girls game, the two teams were knotted 7-7 after the first quarter, while the Vikings sailed out to a 25-16 lead at halftime and put the game out of reach in the third quarter to take a 44-27 lead heading into the final stanza.
Vinalhaven's Ashley Hamilton poured in 31 points to lead the hosts, while Ryann Warren and Ellie Reidy each added nine; Andrea Shane, two; and Ashley Davis-Oakes, one.
For North Haven, Gina MacDonald scored 17 points, while Maddie Hallowell added seven; Adrianna Ames, five; and Mya Goodell, four.
The Vikings were 11-of-17 (65 percent) from the foul line, while the Hawks were 10-of-11 (91 percent).
Cooper, who also coaches the North Haven girls, said that while the Vikings were the more talented team heading into the contest, the most important difference in the game was clear.
"The girls got outscored by nine in that second quarter and the difference was Ashley Hamilton," Cooper said. "She would literally slice through our defense and just go up for layups and our girls were just left flatfooted."
MacDonald picked up three fouls by the second quarter, which affected the Hawks' ability to defend Hamilton, the Vikings' top all-around player, who scored 17 first-half points.
Despite the loss, Cooper said he felt his girls played well and stuck with their island rivals through the first half before the game got out of reach.
"I thought they played great," Cooper said of his players. "You just can't keep up the pace with a lot of these teams. Vinalhaven played us man-to-man [defensively] and that's a lot more tiring. [The Hawks are] young, not exceptionally quick, not yet, but they really held their own in the first half."
North Haven has only seven players on its roster.
In the Maine Principals' Association Heal Point Standings for Western Class D, Vinalhaven (5-10, 17.1296 points) is eighth, while North Haven (4-10, 3.9627 points) is 12th. Richmond (12-2, 56.2092 points) is first in the 13-team region. The top nine teams qualify for the playoffs.
Courier Publications Associate Sports Director Mark Haskell can be reached at 207-594-4401 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.