HERMON, Maine — Colton Gross was a quiet presence for the Hermon boys basketball team during most of its Class B preliminary-round contest against Mattanawcook Academy of Lincoln.
Turns out he was just a weapon in waiting.
Gross forced overtime by making three free throws — the last one after a timeout — with 1.5 seconds left in the fourth quarter, then hit a 3-pointer as time expired in the extra period as the Hawks outlasted the Lynx 51-48 on Wednesday night.
The win advances coach Mark Reed’s fifth-ranked Hermon club (15-4) to a 1:35 p.m. quarterfinal Saturday at the Bangor Auditorium against No. 13 Foxcroft Academy, which edged No. 4 Caribou 46-45.
No. 12 Mattanawcook ends its season at 9-10.
The Lynx trailed for most of the overtime, but senior guard Brady Vose made three free throws after being fouled on a 3-point attempt to forge a 48-48 tie with 20.7 seconds remaining.
After calling its final timeout, Hermon worked the clock down until Kevin Tarr drove into the lane and fed Gross deep on the left wing.
The junior guard had just time enough to set himself, shoot, and watch the ball swish through the net as the buzzer sounded.
“I got the ball, looked at the clock and saw seven seconds, so I knew we had to make something happen,” said Tarr. “I took it to the hole, and I know Colton’s a great shooter, so I got him the ball and he hit it.”
Gross had made two 3-pointers early in the first period, but took only two more shots until the fourth quarter, when he scored nine of his team-high 20 points to help force overtime.
No matter. His long-range shooting touch was still intact.
“I figured Kevin would attack so I slid off and spotted up,” said Gross. “Kevin knows I’m going to do that, he and I have that psychic going on, so he dribbled right at Vose, did a great job of sucking him in and Kevin made a great pass to me.”
Gross’s game-winner was the final shot in a tight battle between Big East Conference rivals that had split two regular-season games. Neither team led by more than five points.
Hermon withstood a tireless performance by Vose, who scored a game-high 32 points. The Lynx’s 1,000-point standout made just 7 of 22 shots from the field against considerable defensive pressure, but hit 17 of 19 free-throw tries.
Hermon’s offense was more balanced for much of the contest, with MA inviting Tarr to attempt to score and the senior swingman obliging with 10 early points to stake the Hawks to a 22-19 halftime edge.
Vose scored seven points in the third quarter as MA took a 32-30 lead, and when he added the first three points of the fourth quarter while Hermon center Andy Ball (eight points, nine rebounds) and Tarr each picked up his fourth foul, the Hawks looked in trouble.
But Gross was just getting started. He hit one runner from the lane midway through the period, and made 7 of 8 from the free-throw line — none more dramatic than the three he converted after being brushed by Vose during a 3-point try with 1.5 seconds left.
Gross made the first two cleanly before MA coach Ryan Libby called time in an effort to freeze the shooter.
Sixty seconds later, Gross made the third free throw, and it was on to overtime.
“I tried not to watch,” said Reed. “I was just praying it went in, and he stepped up there with a lot of confidence.”