BANGOR, Maine — Senior leadership and experience, unwavering defensive pressure and an 80 percent shooting exhibition from the floor in the fourth quarter were more than enough to send the Washington Academy Raiders of East Machias into the Eastern Maine Class C championship game.
The top-seeded Raiders improved to 19-1 with an impressive 68-50 victory over No. 5 Foxcroft Academy Friday afternoon at the Bangor Auditorium.
Four players scored 11 points or more for the Raiders, who will play No. 2 Calais for the Eastern Maine title tonight at 9 p.m. Foxcroft finished up 16-4.
Justin Morren, fellow senior forward Bryce Colbeth and Sam Stevens took care of the inside game by combining for 29 points, 28 rebounds, six assists and three blocks.
“Those guys are kind of the unsung heroes of our team and they were the difference in the game, really,” said Raiders head coach Steve Pineo.
Meanwhile, WA guards Noah Von Rotz and Ben Teer hurt Foxcroft from the outside while accounting for 35 points, 10 rebounds, eight assists and three steals.
Morren had a double-double with 12 points and 11 rebounds. Stevens had 11 points and seven rebounds, while Colbeth had 10 rebounds, six points and four assists.
Von Rotz led WA with 19 points and five assists. Teer canned four of seven 3-pointers while totaling 16 points and also grabbed six rebounds.
While the Raiders never trailed in the game and led by as many as 20 points, the Ponies were able to get WA’s lead down to three with 26 seconds left in the third quarter. But as was the case in so many other situations, WA had an answer, this time in the form of an easy score by Von Rotz from the left block off an alley-oop in-bounds pass from Colbeth with five seconds left.
“Coach tells us not to get flustered after other teams get big shots,” said Morren. “We just get back and try to get open, and when you score like that, it drains the momentum right out of them.”
The Raiders outscored the Ponies 8-2 to end the third and start the fourth, and FA never got any closer again.
“Certainly, every time they seemed to have a little run going, we’d find a way to plug the hole in the dam,” said Pineo. “I really think it’s our defense that does it for us.”
Foxcroft coach David Carey agrees.
“They wear you down and kind of force you to go with some people longer than you want because of their pressure,” said Carey. “They even trap off misses with their 2-2-1, which is unusual.”
Josiah Richard led Foxcroft with 18 points, five rebounds, three steals and two assists. James Johnson had 11 points, five boards and four blocks, while Ian Champeon finished with eight points and 11 rebounds.