OLD TOWN — Among the challenges facing an undefeated team in any sport is the likelihood it will get its opponent’s best effort every time out.
The Ellsworth boys basketball team faced just such a challenge Thursday night, but a late 3-pointer by Cote Card forced overtime and the Eagles held Old Town scoreless during the extra period to salvage a 56-49 victory at MacKenzie Gymnasium.
Ellsworth, ranked second in Eastern Maine Class B, improved its record to 14-0 in the first of its three games in as many nights and five games in the final eight days of the regular season.
“This was a good test,” said Ellsworth coach Peter Austin. “Obviously I like the way it came out, but it was a good test to come down to the wire and take care of the ball at the end. We didn’t seem to panic too much. We took care of the ball and we got a good look. We had good shooters in at the end of the game, and (Card) nailed it.”
Old Town (4-10) twice held a 3-point lead during the final two minutes of the fourth quarter, the second time when Cole Haskell made the first of two free throws to give the Coyotes a 49-46 edge with 25.3 seconds left.
Ellsworth then worked the ball around the perimeter in search of the equalizer and got it from Card, a 6-foot-3 senior whose 3-pointer from the right corner with 11 seconds left forged a 49-49 tie.
“I was supposed to be running the baseline, and Thomas (Sawyer) and Jordan (Carter) were on the wings waiting for the 3-point shot,” said Card, who led four Ellsworth double-figure scorers with 15 points. “Thomas couldn’t get open, so I went down to the corner and got the ball and shot.”
Teammate Nick Holt then opened overtime with his fourth 3-pointer of the night, and Ellsworth’s defense limited Old Town to just three field-goal attempts while forcing four turnovers during the extra period.
“Ellsworth is very poised, they have a lot of weapons that can hurt you,” said Old Town coach Brian McDormand. “We played hard defensively and matched up with them very well. We tried to pick our poison and make them beat us from the outside, and they certainly did.”
Senior forward Andrew Austin added 13 points, 12 rebounds and four steals for Ellsworth while Carter, a senior guard, had 13 points, eight rebounds and six assists and Holt finished with 12 points.
Old Town got a big night from sophomore guard Cameron Archer, who scored a game-high 17 points, including 15 in the second half. His back-to-back 3-pointers to open the third quarter gave the Coyotes a 28-21 lead — matching the largest lead for either team during the game.
“Some guys did some great things out there tonight,” said McDormand. “Cameron Archer I gave a start to tonight, he’s been waiting in the wings, and he had a great second half for us.”
Gabe Melmed and Ryan Boyington each added nine points for Old Town, while Haskell contributed six points, six rebounds and three blocked shots.