Mariners outlast Windjammers in thrilling regular-season finaleOceanside eyes automatic berth to Bangor, Camden Hills in playoffs too
Rockport — While the Eastern Class B tournament does not officially begin until next week, it essentially began for many Midcoast high school boys basketball fans on Thursday night, Feb. 7 in the regular-season finale between Oceanside and host Camden Hills.
The crowd was electric and the student sections were roaring as both the Mariners and Windjammers had plenty to play for on the hardwood Thursday night — and, in the end, it was the Mariners who sailed on to the victory.
Oceanside (14-4) withstood on onslaught of 3-pointers from Camden Hills — 10 total in the game — including seven from senior Chandler Crans, who poured in a game-high 27 points in the losing effort.
Camden Hills (12-6) ran out to a 9-2 lead in the first quarter and led 14-8 after the first stanza, while the two teams were knotted 24-24 at halftime. Oceanside then went on a 27-14 run in the third quarter to take a 51-38 lead heading into the final stanza.
After the team's overtime loss to Medomak Valley Feb. 5, Oceanside coach Matt Breen was pleased to end the regular season on a positive note, including avenging a 66-63 home loss to the Windjammers early in the campaign.
"I thought we played well down the stretch [of the season]," said Breen. "Even the loss at Medomak [Valley] we didn't execute well, but we played hard and we matched their intensity. And tonight we played hard and were able to execute better and that was the difference in tonight's game."
Windjammer coach Jeff Hart said Thursday's game was "not a very good game by us at all."
"[Oceanside] had an awful lot of open looks," he said. "That's just bad defense. I mean, you've got to make them still, but when you don't have anybody within eight feet of you, you're going to make shots. We just had way too many defensive breakdowns tonight to be able to take a win home."
As of Thursday night in the Maine Principals' Association Heal Point Standings for Eastern Class B, Oceanside (14-4, 125.3086 points) was second, while Camden Hills (12-6, 93.9815 points) was eighth. Medomak Valley (16-2, 131.7901 points) was first in the 19-team region, with the top 13 teams qualifying for the playoffs.
Oceanside could fall as far as fourth and may have to play a preliminary playoff game by the time the final Heal Point Standings shake out in the next day or two, or the Mariners could earn a berth directly into the quarterfinals at the Bangor Auditorium by virtue of a top-three finish.
Oceanside also played Thursday's game without starting point guard Isaiah Stone-Patterson, sidelined with a shoulder injury, but coach Breen said Stone-Patterson will be fine for the team's upcoming playoff game, whether it be a home prelim playoff next week or an automatic quarterfinal berth the weekend of Feb. 15-16.
Davenport poured in 24 points for Oceanside, including 3-of-4 from the foul line in the final 1:06, to help the visitors pull away.
Meklin, the Mariner's 6-foot-5-inch center, netted four 3-pointers in the game and three in the third quarter to contribute 18 points in the win.
Meklin, who also has several in-game dunks to his credit this season, hit five 3-pointers in a midseason win at Waterville and since then, the Oceanside center has been getting more and more comfortable shooting from long range.
"Over the summer [coach Breen] told me if I worked on it I could shoot behind the arc," said Meklin. "I did, and then all of the sudden I hit a few in a game and started getting confidence and they started dropping."
"He's always been a pretty good shooter and in practice he knocks them down," said Breen. "You kind of want your 6-5 guy banging around in the paint, but we let him stretch it out. He's got the best percentage on the team from the 3-point line so if he gets an open look he's got the green light to take it."
Oceanside also was big on the offensive glass throughout Thursday's game, getting many second- and third-chance opportunities and keeping the ball out of Camden Hills' hands.
Also scoring for Oceanside was Hunter Grindle with eight points; Keenan Hendricks, five; Nick Mazurek and Matt Zable, both four; and Tyler Gilson, two.
For Camden Hills, Connor Hart tossed in eight points, while Jayson Kuhn added seven; Joe Chamberlain and Colin Morse, both five; Connor Graffam, four; and Terron Bailey, three.
The Mariners went 9-of-12 (75 percent) from the foul line, while the 'Jammers netted 12-of-15 (80 percent).
Morse hit a pair of free throws to start the third quarter for Camden Hills before Meklin and Chandler Crans traded 3-pointers on back-to-back possessions, but Davenport converted a conventional three-point play and Meklin buried his second trey of the quarter to put the visitors up 33-29 with 5:30 left.
Graffam hit a shot on the low block to bring the 'Jammers within two points, but Meklin connected on his third trey of the quarter to start an 8-0 Oceanside run, which prompted a Windjammer timeout.
Camden Hills battled back late in the fourth quarter and cut its deficit to 60-56 with 1:10 remaining, but the hosts were forced to begin fouling and Oceanside hit its free throws to pull away.
Davenport iced 3-of-4 from the charity stripe in the final 1:10 and Grindle 2-of-2 to lift the Mariners.
"I always think the same exact thing every game [when I'm at the foul line]," said Davenport. "I picture me and Sam [Meklin] shooting foul shots together in practice. Same hoop, both of us there every practice. That's what I picture in my head.
"And it works."
"It's too bad that we're in that position trying to play catchup that way," said coach Hart. "It's tough to do. You can try to do little things to lengthen the game but it still comes down to hoping someone misses some foul shots for you."
Davenport said whether the Mariners have a prelim or a bye into the quarterfinals, their goal is the same.
"We've just got to keep playing strong," he said. "Things are going good lately. We hit a little slump, but we've definitely picked it back up and now we've just got to keep playing hard."
Oceanside is slated to face Medomak Valley in the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class B championship on Saturday, Feb. 9 at 5 p.m. at Cony High School, but that game could be canceled due to the impending snow set to rock the state over the weekend.
If the game is canceled, Medomak Valley would be declared the league Class B champion by virtue of its higher Heal Point standing. This season, the Mariners and Panthers split two games, with Medomak Valley winning at home 60-58 in overtime and Oceanside winning at home 71-65 in double-overtime .
Courier Publications Associate Sports Director Mark Haskell can be reached at 207-594-4401 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.