LINCOLN — Solid defense and patient offense have been hallmarks of the Caribou boys basketball team in recent years, and based on early returns this season looks to be no different.
The Vikings limited Mattanawcook Academy to eight first-half points Thursday night, then withstood a 3-point barrage by the Lynx after intermission to earn a 46-42 Class B Big East Conference victory.
The win was the second without a loss for coach Chris Casavant’s club, which has allowed an average of 34.5 points in road victories over Mattanawcook and Bucksport.
“It was an overall good game,” said Caribou senior guard Roland Thibodeau, who contributed 11 points and a game-high eight steals to the victory. “It’s always nice to win on the road. They’re a good team, a well-coached team, so anytime you can come out with a road win against them it’s nice.”
Senior forward Stephen St. Peter scored a team-high 14 points for the Vikings, including a 10-of-12 effort from the free-throw line, while junior point guard Chad Caverhill scored 10 points, including 6-of-8 free-throw shooting in the fourth quarter.
“We’re happy we won,” said Casavant. “For us, any time we win on the road is big, especially in this conference, and that’s something we preach to the guys all the time.”
Junior guard Matt Voisine paced 0-2 Mattanawcook with 15 points and five rebounds, while guard Devin DeLaite — one of just three seniors on a Mattanawcook roster that also has no player taller than 6-foot-1 — scored 12 points on 4-of-6 shooting from 3-point land.
Caribou’s defense dominated the first half, as the Vikings limited Mattanawcook to just 11 shot attempts and forced 12 Lynx turnovers while building a 21-8 lead at the break.
But Mattanawcook battled back after intermission, fueled by an unlikely locale. After making just 2-of-18 3-point tries in their opener against Presque Isle, the Lynx hit 6-of-8 tries from beyond the arc in the second half against Caribou.
Four came in the third quarter, two by DeLaite, one by Chase Vicaire and the final one a buzzer-beating fling by Timmy Cummings to pull Mattanawcook within 28-24.
“I just told them to be more aggressive, keep taking it to the hoop, to be a little stronger with the basketball,” said Mattanawcook coach Ryan Libby. “We finally got Devin involved, and Matt Voisine played a heck of a game. He had to handle the Caverhill kid who is a seasoned point guard, and (offensively) he got it going to the hoop while Devin made some threes, and the game-changer was Timmy’s three at the end of the third quarter.”
Caribou stretched its lead back out to 35-27 with a five-point run that featured two layups by Thibodeau, one after an offensive rebound by St. Peter and the second on a long inbounding pass from Branden Holdsworth.
Voisine scored 10 of his team’s next 13 points and DeLaite added a 3-pointer to rally the Lynx again, with a follow-up shot by Voisine with 19.9 seconds to play capping off a personal 6-1 run that narrowed the MA deficit to 42-40.
But Caribou answered with four straight free throws, as Caverhill sandwiched two around a timeout with 16 seconds left and St. Peter added two game clinchers with 4 seconds remaining to counter a follow-up basket by MA freshman Trysten Pelkey.