ELLSWORTH, Maine — The Old Town boys basketball team put on a display of the basics Thursday evening that proved just too much for Ellsworth.
The Coyotes used solid defense, good shot selection and accuracy at the free-throw line to upend the Eagles 55-43 in a Big East Conference Class B clash at Katsiaficas Gymnasium.
Senior guard Josh Boucher scored 18 points to pace 10-5 Old Town, while senior forward Brandon Merry scored 16 and senior guard Luke Bartlett added 14.
Andrew Austin led 12-3 Ellsworth with nine points and six rebounds.
The win could help move coach Marty Clark’s Coyotes, ranked seventh in Eastern B as the game began, up the one more spot it needs to avoid a preliminary-round game when the regional playoffs begin in less than two weeks.
“It’s big,” said Boucher, whose team avenged a season-opening 64-47 loss to Ellsworth on Dec. 5. “We want to go right to the [Bangor] Auditorium.”
Second-ranked Ellsworth (12-3) began the night as one of the highest-scoring teams in the Big East with an average of more than 64 points per contest.
But Old Town stymied the Eagles with a halfcourt man-to-man defense that forced 24 turnovers and limited Ellsworth’s three double-figure scorers — Ryan Petros, Brad Folmer and Austin — to a combined 22 points on 10 of 28 shooting.
“Anything works if you work hard enough. That’s what we did tonight,” said Old Town senior guard Luke Bartlett. “We went out there and worked hard, and we shut down their three big scorers.
“That’s what you have to do to beat teams like this. They’re a good team, don’t take anything away from them. They can score, but when we come out and play as hard as we can, we can play with anybody and we can shut teams down.”
That was most in evidence during the second quarter, when Old Town held Ellsworth scoreless on 0-of-7 shooting and six turnovers to turn a 15-13 deficit into a 24-15 halftime lead.
“The game plan was mostly to get back on defense, we just wanted to slow them down,” said Boucher. “It was 100 percent halfcourt man.
“In the beginning of the year we were kind of shaky on defense but in the last half of the season we been able to shut down teams.”
While Ellsworth struggled offensively, Old Town worked the ball inside the Eagles’ defense for high-percentage shots, primariily from Boucher and senior forward Bronson Merry, who combined for 18 first-half points.
Nine of the Coyotes’ 16 field goals came from the lane, and Old Town shot 48 percent (16 of 33) for the game.
“We dominated in the paint, I think,” said Merry.
Old Town added the first four points of the second half to stretch its lead to 28-15before Cote Card scored on a drive to the basket with 5:31 left in the third period to end an Ellsworth scoring drought of 11½ minutes.
Ellsworth got no closer than eight points the rest of the way, as Old Town made 17 of 22 free-throw attempts during the fourth quarter.
Bartlett made eight straight during one three-minute stretch of the final period, while Boucher went 6 of 8 from the line during the game’s last eight minutes.