PORTLAND, Maine — For three quarters, they were mortal.
But Gordon Fischer refused to let the Camden Hills of Rockport boys basketball team fail Friday night, as the 6-foot-6 senior forward scored 10 of his game-high 22 points in the fourth quarter to lead the Windjammers to the Class B state championship with a 62-49 victory over stubborn Cape Eliza-beth at the Cumberland County Civic Center.
The win capped off a perfect 22-0 season for coach Jeff Hart’s club, which went virtually un-tested until meeting a Cape Elizabeth team back in the final for the second straight year.
But while the Capers had the memories of last year’s loss to Maranacook of Readfield as motivation, Fischer had the memories of an injury-plagued state final here two years ago, when the Windjammers fell to Mountain Valley of Rumford.
“When he came down here two years ago, it was a night-mare for him, there’s no other way to put it,” said Hart. “He never forgot about it, and when we were down here practicing Wednesday, I knew that if we got into a close game he would take it over, he wouldn’t let us lose, and that’s exactly what he did.”
Indeed, this time Fischer was healthy, and he was determined to leave the Civic Center with gold ball in hand.
Camden Hills led just 39-38 entering the fourth quarter, but Fischer struck for four straight baskets and then fed Kiefer Lammi for a layup to give the Windjammersa 51-44 lead mid-way through the period.
“It just happened,” said Fischer, who also had seven rebounds and four blocked shots. “The lane opened up for me, and I just felt unstoppable, that the shots were going in.”
Cape Elizabeth (18-4) got no closer than five points the rest of the way, and Camden Hills added a late 11-2 run to blow the game open.
“Gordon’s been huge for this team,” said Camden Hills sophomore forward Tyler McFarland, who came up big with 15 points, 14 rebounds and four blocks. “He’s sacrificed his offensive game all year to stabi-lize our offense and give us what we need. But him stepping up his game and realizing we needed him to get some high-percentage shots was huge. That’s exactly what he went out and did.”
The Windjammers entered the game as the heavy favorite, having allowed just one of their first 21 opponents to finish a game less than 23 points behind the unbeaten juggernaut.
But this game was a true championship test.
Cape Elizabeth jumped out to an 11-8 lead after the first quar-ter, largely thanks to defensive pressure that induced 10 Cam-den Hills turnovers.
That the Capers should have taken more advantage of that situation seemed obvious when Camden Hills rallied to take a 15-13 lead when Fischer and Safford each sandwiched a pair of free throws around a drive by Kiefer Lammi midway through the second quarter.
But Cape endured that change of momentum with some patient offense that con-trolled time of possession, and some timely offensive re-bounds.
Those factors helped produce a run of 10 unanswered points by the Capers, including follow-up baskets by Andrew Dickey and point guard Johnny Messina, that gave the Western Maine champions their largest lead of the half, 23-15, with 2:50 left.
A jumper by Taylor Gartley and a drive by Fischer pulled Camden Hills back within 23-19, but Cape’s Conor Moloney scored on a drive to offset two Keegan Pieri free throws to give the Capers a 25-21 lead at the break.
Still, by intermission Cam-den Hills had 15 turnovers to just five for Cape Elizabeth, with the Capers also scoring 10 of their points directly as the result of offensive rebounds.
Cape did suffer an additional setback just before halftime, as two of their leading players, Bowe and Dickey, each drew his third foul within a 13-second span, and Camden Hills took advantage at the outset of the third quarter with 10 straight points to take a 33-27 lead.
Fischer scored six points during the run, which was capped off when Safford made two free throws – and Bowe and Dickey re-entered the game.
“They were the first team to really put us on our heels,” said Hart. “They really did, but we came out immediately in the second halfand turned it around. It hurt them not to have Bowe in there, but we started taking it to them, some-thing we didn’t do in the firsdt half.”
The Windjammers maintained a 37-32 lead on a low-post basket by McFarland, but Bowe (a team-high 19 points)hit two fadeaway jumpers in the final 90 seconds of the period to help pull Cape Elizabeth within 39-38 entering the final quarter.