HARRINGTON, Maine — There’s little hidden in the rivalry between the Narraguagus Knights and Sumner of East Sullivan.
Families from the neighboring areas do much of their shopping in the same town, Milbridge, and many of the kids from both high schools grow up together working on the waterfront, not to mention competing against each other athletically from the youth levels up.
Everybody knows everybody, so it’s no surprise that when these schools meet on the basketball court, emotions run high.
“We hate them and they hate us, that’s usually how it goes,” said Narraguagus senior guard Blake Chase.
Both teams came out charged up for Saturday night’s first meeting of the season between the teams, but Narraguagus settled down first to earn a 74-65 victory in this battle of Eastern Maine Class C contenders.
Chase scored 14 of his 16 points after intermission as the Knights erased a 29-25 halftime deficit, and he added seven assists and six steals for coach Peter Wolley’s club. Andrew Polley also scored 16 points, while Jared Dorr scored 12 and Stephen Strout contributed 10 points and 10 rebounds.
“Coach told us we had to start pounding the ball inside more,” said Chase. “We came out with twice as much intensity as we had in the first half.”
Senior guard Woody Huber scored a game-high 29 points for Sumner, 21 coming in the second half. Center Chris Weaver added 18 points and 14 rebounds for the Tigers, who were hurt by shooting just 50 percent (13 of 26) from the free-throw line compared to 70 percent (14 of 20) for Narraguagus.
Narraguagus (5-1) took the lead for good midway through the third quarter and built that margin to as much as 67-52 on a fast-break layup by Joshua Beal. The Knights were successful driving to the basket more than in the first half, when they largely settled for jumpers and shot just 35 percent (11 of 31) from the field.
The second-half strategy also produced open 3-pointers for Chase and Polley, as the Summer defense was forced to focus on activities nearer the basket. Chase hit two 3-pointers and scored 10 points in the third quarter alone as Narraguagus gained a 47-43 lead.
“We just had to work hard,” said Wolley. “We weren’t getting back on defense in the first half, and we weren’t running anything and it showed in our point total. Your shots don’t fall when you’re not working hard, but we worked extremely hard in the second half and things started to open up.”
Sumner (4-2) got a huge performance from Huber, who doggedly worked his way into the lane against two or three defenders to score 13 fourth-quarter points, including six to go with a Matt Boyle 3-pointer during an 11-1 run that rallied the Tigers to within 68-63 with 2:01 left in the game.
But Narraguagus closed out the victory as Dorr made two free throws and Strout scored a fast-break basket to restore the Knights to a nine-point lead in the final minute.
“One of the things we told our kids was that the team that first got control of their emotions and composure was going to put together a solid run, and it was obviously Narraguagus that did that,” said Sumner coach Walter Crabtree. “They had a real good run that I thought buried us, but to our kids’ credit they competed, particularly Woody Huber. He’s awfully good, but this also shows you how competitive he is.”