ROCKPORT, Maine — What’s the secret to knocking off the undefeated Camden Hills boys basketball juggernaut?
No one’s figured it out yet, but it may start with trying to frustrate the Windjammers early — because once they get going, they’re proving to be unstoppable.
Medomak Valley of Waldoboro hung with Camden Hills early Friday night, but the Windjammers exploded for 53 points after intermission and pulled away to an 83-45 Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class B victory over their Midcoast rivals.
“The last couple of games we’ve come out real strong after halftime and we wanted to keep that up,” said sophomore guard Graham Safford, who led Camden Hills with a game-high 18 points. “We came out and started with a couple of stops, and our defense just led to our offense.”
The win was the 16th straight for coach Jeff Hart’s club, and the wide margin was little more than the norm for the Windjammers, who are outscoring opponents by an average of 68.8 to 35.5 points per game.
Medomak Valley’s 57-34 loss to Camden Hills in their previous meeting this season was the closest call the Windjammers have had to date.
And while the 11-5 Panthers were able to maintain contact midway through the rematch, the much taller Camden Hills lineup — with 6-foot-5 sophomore Tyler McFarland amassing eight points and eight rebounds in the opening two quarters alone — was able to generate 18 second-chance points to stake the Windjammers to a 30-22 halftime lead.
“We weren’t hitting anything in the first half,” said Camden Hills senior forward Gordon Fischer. “We took eight 3’s in the first quarter and I think one of them went in, but that’s where the offensive boards come quick, just getting weak-side rebounds and putting them back up. That’s how we got started.”
After intermission, the rebounding grind gave way to showtime.
Safford, limited to four free throws in the first half, hit a pair of 3-pointers to go with inside baskets by Taylor Gartley and Tyler McFarland as Camden Hills opened the third period with 10 unanswered points to extend its lead to 40-22.
Medomak Valley called time, but it did little good. That 10-0 run grew to a 22-4 explosion, with a 3-pointer by senior guard Kiefer Lammi giving Camden Hills a 51-26 lead with 1:32 left in the quarter.
“In the second half we got down double digits, and then our shot selection wasn’t as good as it had been in the first half,” said Medomak Valley coach Nick DePatsy. “Unfortunately when you play a team like this you can’t play for 2½ quarters. You’ve got to max out for four quarters.”
The Panthers (11-5) did creep back within 54-38 on a layup by Kevin Fogg early in the fourth quarter, but Fischer worked inside for a three-point play, and after Medomak Valley’s Alex MacKenzie went 1 for 2 from the line, the Windjammers ripped off 18 unanswered points to put the game away.
“The past few second halves we’ve really felt great out there,” said Fischer. “Everything’s flowing, the stops are coming defensively. We just need to put it together for a whole game every time out.”
Safford made all four of his 3-point attempts during a 14-point second half, and he also had six assists and four rebounds after the break.
“He just leads us,’ said Hart of Safford. “He’s such a competitor, and he was determined. He was going to get the ball where he wanted to get it and he was going to guard people.
“He’s a big-game player, and sometimes when he’s not part of the game it’s more just him being bored than anything, I think. But when he really decides to turn it up, he pretty much runs the show for us.”
McFarland added 16 points and 13 rebounds for the Windjammers, who outboarded Medomak Valley 40-20 and forced the Panthers into 31 turnovers. Fischer scored 13 points to draw within 38 points of 1,000 for his career, while Lammi finished with 12.
Alex Goldrup led Medomak Valley with 10 points.