Vinalhaven, Woolwich settle for split of championshipsIn Buslie League, Viking boys, Wildcat girls seal unbeaten campaigns
Camden — The Vinalhaven and Woolwich basketball squads and their fans looked to double their pleasure Saturday afternoon, Jan. 26 in the Busline League middle school championships at Camden-Rockport Middle School; however, the Vikings and Wildcats were forced to settle for a split of both the joy of winning and pain of losing.
In the end, everyone left the gymnasium at least half happy.
That is because the Vikings and Wildcats split small school division championship affairs, with No. 1 Vinalhaven (13-0) using tough defense and clutch foul shooting down the stretch to rally past No. 2 Woolwich (11-2) 63-59 for the boys crown for the second straight year.
On the girls side, No. 1 Woolwich (13-0) had too much talent for No. 2 Vinalhaven (11-2) en route to a 48-28 title victory. Woolwich also wore the crown last year.
Videos from the boys and girls games appear below.
Saturday's games were between geographically distance schools, as Woolwich is near the far South end of the Busline league, which has, in the past, covered from the Richmond/Woolwich area to Searsports in the East/North and to Vinalhaven, situated in Penobscot Bay, a one-hour-and-15-minute ferry boat ride from Rockland.
Ironically, the Vinalhaven boys had beaten host Woolwich 64-56 in the team's lone regular-season meeting, as the two squads nearly matched the same score in the league finale.
The Woolwich girls had downed Vinalhaven 56-11 earlier in the campaign, so Saturday's championship game was a bit more competitive.
For the boys, Vinalhaven defeated No. 8 Jefferson and No. 4 Appleton to advance to the championship game, while Woolwich beat No. 7. Bristol White and No. 3 Nobleboro to advance.
For the girls, Vinalhaven defeated No. 7 South Bristol and No. 3 Bristol Blue to advance to the championship game, while Woolwich beat No. 8 Appleton and No. 4 Hope to advance.
The Vinalhaven boys, guided by head coach Darryl Stanley and assistant coaches Brian Osgood and Jake Stanley, include Cody Hamilton, Liam Thomas, Max Stanley, Cole Mills, Elijah Ames, Keon Arey, Tyson Goyette, Isle Blackington, Andy Moody and Henry Noyes.
The Vinalhaven girls, led by head coach Sam Bickford and assistant coaches Bev Warren and Brooke Conway, include Ashly Littlefield, Bailey Wadleigh, Hannah Ames, Kameron Cluff, Gilleyanne Oakes, Katrina Osgood, Jenea Cray, Cheyenne Bickford, Amber Shane, Paige Dennison, Deja Doughty, MaKenzie Young and Carolyn Hopkins.
The Woolwich boys include Dakota Freeman, Evan Parson, Tucker Banger, Max Reed, Sullivan Boyd, Lucas Brown, Declan Hall, Jeremy Thibault, Bradley Drake, James Lacavera, Trevor Santiago and Josh Doughty.
The Woolwich girls include Madeline Suhr, Lilah Pashley, Brooke McElmann, Korallei Fifield, Isabella Monborquette, Gabrielle Morin, Catherine Seaman, Lilly Maccio, Tori Ceglinski, Hannah Card, Tanisha McKenzie and Sara Graves.
The islanders took a page from last year's championship book as they fell behind Saturday, but battled back and used clutch foul shooting and calm, steady overall play down the stretch to pull out the win.
Last year, in the title game between the clubs in Thomaston, Vinalhaven trailed by 10 points in the third quarter but eventually pulled out the victory.
On Saturday, the Vikings, who have five eighth-graders and five seventh-graders, were led by Hamilton with 22 points; Arey, 16; Stanley, 15; Thomas, six; Mills, four; and Ames, two. The islanders made three 3-pointers, including two from Thomas, and 12-of-33 free throws (36 percent).
For Woolwich, Freeman poured in an impressive 36 points, which included making 10-of-15 free throws (67 percent). Also chipping in for the Wildcats were Parson with eight points; Banger, six; Thibault, four; Boyd and Reed, both two; and Brown, one. The Wildcats made 11-of-20 foul shots (55 percent).
Freeman tallied nine points in the first quarter, five in the second, six in the third and 16 in the fourth.
The game was knotted 16-16 after one quarter before Woolwich led 29-24 at halftime and 41-38 after three stanzas.
In the second half, Thomas connected on two 3-pointers and Stanley one in the third quarter to keep the Vikings within striking distance before Arey and Hamilton made free throws down the stretch to cement the win for the islanders.
Vinalhaven trailed 59-57 with about a minute left when Hamilton netted 1-of-2 foul shots to make it 59-58 and, with 42 seconds remaining, Arey iced two foul shots to put the islanders ahead 60-59. Vinalhaven never trailed again.
With 12.6 remaining, Hamilton stepped back to the charity stripe and made both free throws to give the Vikings a 62-59 edge. Arey made 1-of-2 foul shots with 6.9 seconds left to complete the scoring.
Arey and Hamilton hit 6-of-8 (75 percent) foul shots in the final minute to lift Vinalhaven to the victory.
The Vikings again had no answer for Suhr — few opponents did this season — as the Wildcat poured in 26 points, including 8-of-11 foul shots, to lift Woolwich to another league crown. She also scored 26 points in a previous regular-season win over the Vikings this winter.
McElmann added 16 points and Pashley, Fifield Maccio all two for the winners, who led 14-11, 30-19 and 44-22 at the quarter breaks. Suhr tallied 10 points in the first quarter, six in both the second and third and four in the fourth.
Woolwich made 10-of-15 free throws (67 percent).
For the Vikings, Wadleigh netted 12 points, Oakes 11 and Littlefield and Doughty both two. Wadleigh connected on 8-of-9 free throws (89 percent). Vinalhaven sank 11-of-15 foul shots (73 percent).
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