There were no secrets heading into Wednesday afternoon’s Eastern Class B semifinal playoff game at the Bangor Auditorium between No. 1 Camden Hills and No. 5 Medomak Valley, as the Windjammers and Panthers had already squared off twice thus far during the regular season.

Both previous contests ended with notches in the win column for Camden Hills in tightly-contested games, but the third meeting of the season was not as competitive as the first two affairs.

The Panthers saw a game that was relatively close in the first half quickly begin to slip away in the final 16 minutes as the defending state Class B champion Windjammers sailed to yet another regional final appearance with a 69-48 victory over the Medomak Valley.

The top-seeded Windjammers (19-2 overall) will face No. 2 Ellsworth (17-3), which dispatched No. 3 Mount View of Thorndike (16-5 overall) 84-65 in Wednesday’s first semifinal, on Saturday, Feb. 20 at 3:30 p.m. in Bangor.

Camden Hills does not play Ellsworth during the regular season.

While Camden Hills coach Jeff Hart was not thoroughly impressed with his team’s overall play Saturday in a quarterfinal win over ninth-seeded Mount Desert Island, he said that Wednesday’s effort was more like what he’s used to seeing from the Windjammers.

“We played better today,” said Hart. “We had an opponent that we knew something about and they knew us, and we did a couple of things a little different than we have before with them.”

Camden Hills has won eight Eastern Maine crowns and five state titles under Hart’s guidance.

The Windjammers ran a different type of trapping defense than they had run previously against the Panthers, and switched to man-to-man defense on occasions to keep Medomak Valley guessing on the court. The trademark pressure defense from the ‘Jammers led to many Panther turnovers, which Camden Hills converted into easy baskets.

“We didn’t play too well,” said Medomak Valley coach Nick DePatsy. “We didn’t hit our shots, we didn’t execute and we had a lot of turnovers. But credit [Camden Hills’] defense, they stepped it up a notch defensively. I think they went to level 100. They did a really good job getting to the passing lanes and boxing out. We just couldn’t get into any flow or any rhythm.”

Camden Hills led 17-16, 33-24 and 56-33 at the quarter breaks.

For the Windjammers, Tyler McFarland poured in 23 points, while Keegan Pieri added 15; Joel Gabriele and Cam Gartley, both eight; Casey Scott, four; Adam Landwehr, three; and Jimmy Weferling, Adam Carlsen, Taylor Hall and Zach Wincklhofer, all two.

Alex MacKenzie led Medomak Valley with 14 points, while Isaac Greenrose added 13; Jason Vinal, five; Isaac Durkee and Jarin Cocco, both four; Dan Aubel, three; Shane Osier and John Murray both two; and Kyle Durkee one.

Camden Hills shot 23-of-31 (74 percent) from the foul line, while Medomak Valley netted 12-of-18 (67 percent). Both teams committed 23 turnovers.

MacKenzie, who played his final game in a Medomak Valley uniform Wednesday, said that Camden Hills was clearly the better team in their final matchup.

“There’s really not much you can do against a team like that,” said MacKenzie. “Tonight they played as well as I’ve seen them play against us all season. Tyler McFarland … you can’t do much to stop him when he’s shooting threes out there too. But I thought we played well. We could have hit some more shots that might have changed the game a little bit, but I thought we played hard. We played with heart.”

The third quarter was key for the Windjammers, as they used a 13-2 run to jump on the Panthers, and help them pull away.

Weferling converted a pair of free throws and Gartley added another, followed by a jumper from Pieri, which allowed Camden Hills to take a 38-24 lead. Gartley then made a steal at midcourt, which Pieri turned into a close-range hoop, prompting a Medomak Valley timeout.

Aubel canned a pair of free throws to stop the bleeding at 40-26, but McFarland scored five straight off a three-point play and a baseline jumper to extend the run.

“McFarland is just a man-child,” said DePatsy. “He’s just a great player. We didn’t do a very good job of containing him.”

MacKenzie finally scored the first field goal of the quarter for the Panthers with 3:57 left, making the score 45-28.

The Windjammers continued to hold the Panthers at bay throughout the remainder of the contest.

The game was a back-and-forth affair in the first eight minutes, as McFarland scored a quick basket in the opening seconds of the game for the Windjammers followed by Vinal coming back the other way and converting a three-point opportunity for the Panthers. Gartley then scored on a runner followed by a three-point play from Pieri, but MacKenzie scored four straight points to tie the game 7-7.

Gabriele and McFarland then connected on back-to-back 3-pointers for Camden Hills, followed by Medomak Valley rattling off seven straight points on a Greenrose layup, a Durkee trey and a layup from Vinal off a steal, to give the Panthers a 14-13 edge.

Gartley later ended the first quarter on a 3-pointer for Camden Hills, giving the top-seed a one-point lead at the end of the first stanza.

Coach Hart and the Windjammers are now focused on winning their ninth regional title in his tenure when they square off against Ellsworth, which the veteran coach anticipates will be a battle.

“I think we just have to play our game,” said Hart of their upcoming matchup against the Eagles. “They were pretty impressive shooting the ball today [against Mount View], so we just need to make sure we contest shots and play the kind of defense we like to play and it should be a good game. It will be a big challenge, but that’s what you expect this time of year.

The Windjammers and Panthers last met in the Eastern Class B playoffs in 1975, when top-seeded Medomak Valley defeated then No. 8 Camden-Rockport 93-53. That year, Medomak Valley went on to the state title game, where it fell to Foxcroft Academy.

The two local teams had also met the two previous years in the regional tournament, with then Camden-Rockport advancing to the state final both seasons, including finishing as unbeaten state champs in 1974 with a win over Orono.

Click for more photos from the Camden Hills and Medomak Valley playoff game.

Village NetMedia Associate Sports Director Mark Haskell can be reached at 207-594-4401 or by e-mail at mhaskell@villagesoup.com.