More often than not, when the numbers four and five teams in a high school regional basketball tournament square off in a quarterfinal playoff game, it it turns out to be a competitive affair. And, for the most part, No. 5 Medomak Valley and No. 4 Presque Isle did not disappoint Saturday morning at the Bangor Auditorium.

When the final buzzer sounded, the Panthers (15-4) had sealed an exciting 46-42 win over the Wildcats (17-2).

The victory propels Medomak Valley into the semifinals against No. 1 Camden Hills (18-2 overall), which beat No. 9 Mount Desert Island (11-9) 54-39 in a quarterfinal playoff game Saturday afternoon in Bangor. The game between the Panthers and Windjammers will be Wednesday, Feb. 17 at 3;35 p.m. in Bangor.

During the regular season, Medomak Valley did not face MDI, but lost twice to Midcoast rival Camden Hills — 54-43 Dec. 11 and 57-49 Jan. 29.

On Saturday, the pesky Panthers handed Presque Isle only its second loss of the season. The Wildcats previous defeat was 69-64 to Ellsworth Dec. 28.

Against Medomak Valley, Presque Isle led 13-10 after one quarter but trailed 22-19 at halftime. The Panthers grabbed a 36-27 lead after three stanzas and then held on for the win.

The Panthers were paced by Alex MacKenzie with 15 points; Dan Aubel, eight; Isaac Greenrose, seven; Isaac Durkee, six; John Bartlett and Jason Vinal, both four; and Dustin Osier, two. Medomak Valley netted 11-of-15 free throws (73 percent).

For Presque Isle, Travis Dyer tallied 14 points; Keenen Eaton, 11; Ethan Bradley, five; Nate Ackerson and Dillon Kingsbury, both four; and Wilder York and Oliver Zubrick, both two. The Wildcats made 8-of-11 free throws (73 percent).

“They were really resilient,” said Medomak Valley coach Nick DePatsy of his team. “Those kids played hard. We rebounded better down the stretch. We spread the floor out and we got that double-digit lead and I just thought that if we could get to the line and make our foul shots we could win.”

The Panthers did just that, netting 6-of-7 in the fourth quarter to hold off the Wildcats. But the game was far from over as the third quarter came to a close.

The Panthers led 36-24 in the waning seconds of the third when Durkee missed a jump shot, the Wildcats moved the ball down the court quickly and saw Eaton connect on the second of his two 3-pointers on the day, which cut Medomak Valley’s lead to 36-27 after three quarters.

“I was worried about that when they hit that three that we’d mentally made a mistake on [our] end and we didn’t want to give them that chance,” said DePatsy “Usually in a situation like that we’re trying to get something [close] to the basket, not a long shot with a long rebound where they can break out for a three. Unfortunately, that happened, but they bounced back mentally and kept their composure.”

Medomak Valley avoided potential disaster late in the fourth quarter with a handful of tough plays, but managed to work its way through the adversity and held on for the win.

Presque Isle called a timeout near midcourt with 4:30 left and the Panthers were late coming back to the court after the referees’ second warning, which ultimately gave the Wildcats an easy hoop on an inbounds pass to Zubrick, making the score 42-31 in favor of the Panthers.

The second mistake was a collision at midcourt with Greenrose and Ackerson, with Ackerson initially being assessed with an intentional foul. The referees conferred and reassessed the foul to Greenrose. Ackerson netted 1-of-2 from the line to cut the Wildcats’ deficit to 10 points, and giving possession back to the Wildcats.

Dyer then knocked down a mid-range jumper to cut the Panther lead to single digits and scored again on a nifty move along the baseline to make it 42-36. Dyer was later fouled shooting a 3-pointer and connected on all three free throws to cut the once seemingly safe Medomak Valley lead to 42-39 with about 1:30 remaining.

The Wildcats eventually ran out of time, as Greenrose stuck a pair of free throws late, as did Bartlett with 7.4 seconds remaining. Ackerson canned a trey as time expired, accounting for the final score.

Click for more photos from the Medomak Valley and Presque Isle playoff game.

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