April 23, 2018
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Father vs. son in EM basketball title quest

By Ernie Clark, BDN Staff

Jamie and Bryan Russell have plenty in common.

The father and son share the same home in LaGrange, both love basketball and both are contending for the Eastern Maine Class C championship this winter.

There’s just one bone of basketball contention — they aren’t on the same team.

Jamie Russell is the head coach at Penobscot Valley of Howland, which is off to its best start in decades with a 7-2 record good for third place in the division heading into Thursday’s game at Dexter.

Bryan Russell is a senior point guard at neighboring Penquis Valley of Milo, fifth-ranked with a 5-2 record pending Wednesday night’s home game against Orono.

The teams will meet at least twice this season, with the first decision going to the younger Russell when Penquis defeated PVHS 49-35 at Sereyko Gymnasium in Howland last Thursday.

“Everybody makes a big deal out of it,” said Bryan. “Dad and I don’t talk about it much. We both love basketball and both appreciate a good game, but once the ball goes up it’s just another game.”

Neither communicated with each other during the hours leading up to the game, as Jamie was teaching at Central High School of Corinth while Bryan was attending classes at Penquis — where he also serves as the local school board representative from LaGrange.

“I didn’t seen him all day,” said Jamie, “and we didn’t really talk (the night before), we were both trying to get ourselves prepared for the game. When we go home (Thursday) it won’t be a big deal, but I highly doubt we’ll talk about the game. When we get home I’ll tell him he did a good job and it will be over.”

Bryan Russell scored 11 points in the Penquis victory over the Howlers as the Patriots built a significant early lead and limited the PVHS comeback effort with a strong defensive effort.

“He played well, he hurt us,” said coach Russell. “He puts great pressure on the ball and he takes great care of the ball. He does a lot of the things that we don’t do well.”

The younger Russell capped off his night with two free throws after his dad was issued a technical foul late in the contest.

“It’s the first time I’ve literally scored points on my dad since back when we played one-on-one,” said Bryan Russell after the physical Penquis-PVHS contest. “He was a little fired up at the end of the game, and I don’t really blame him.”

The two Russells haven’t always been rivals on the court. Bryan played for his dad as a freshman at Piscataquis of Guilford during the 2007-08 season before moving back home to LaGrange when Jamie Russell moved on to Penobscot Valley.

“The fact that I played for him really helps me know the tendencies of his teams, but he also knows what I do out there,” said Bryan, whose Penquis teams have won four of five meetings with Penobscot Valley since the duo moved to their current schools.

The teams meet again on Wednesday, Jan. 26, at Oakes Gymnasium in Milo.

Powers shines for ‘Jammers

Senior Jacob Powers led Camden Hills of Rockport to a third-place finish overall — and the top Maine team — at Saturday’s Redskin Invitational wrestling tournament at Sanford High School.

Powers won the 160-pound weight class by outlasting Nate Lawrence from Timberland High School of Plaistow, N.H., 4-3 in three overtimes in the championship match. Powers had scored three first-round pins to reach the final, and was named the meet’s outstanding wrestler.

Camden Hills finished with 152 points during the day-long event, trailing only Timberland (282), Danbury, N.H. (204) and Cumberland, N.H. (200). Massabesic of Waterboro was fourth with 149 points, with Belfast placing fifth with 119 points.

Powers was one of two individual champions from Camden Hills and one of seven Windjammers who earned top-six finishes.

Rhett Chase of Camden Hills won the 215-pound title, pinning Mike Cyr of Scarborough at 3:34 in their championship match. Teammate Brandon Rich was third at 145 pounds, while Tom Cassidy (130), Max Bragg (135) and Brandon Graffam (189) each placed fourth and Anthony Batty (171) finished sixth.

Belfast also placed seven wrestlers among the top six finishers in their respective weight classes, led by the second-place efforts of Evan Drinkwater (103) and Kornealius Wood (171). Brent Waterman (125) and Ethan Fitzjurls (152) each placed third for the Lions, while Walker Roberts (112) and Jordan Young (119) finished fifth and Peter Kelley (189) was sixth.

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