BANGOR — Two of the bigger names in the Eastern Maine Class D boys basketball tournament — both sophomores — came up big when their teams needed them Monday morning, as Jonesport-Beals’ Garet Beal and Washburn’s Mitch Worcester each scored 26 points to lead their teams to quarterfinal victories.
Matt Alley added 20 points and nine assists as second-ranked Jonesport-Beals outlasted No. 7 Fort Fairfield 72-70, while Jordan McLaughlin backed up Worcester with 13 points, five assists and four steals as third-ranked Washburn pulled away from No. 6 Katahdin of Stacyville 66-51.
Jonesport-Beals (17-1) and Washburn (17-2) will meet in a regional semifinal on Thursday.
In the first game, Washburn shook off a sluggish shooting start to take control of the contest by scoring the final eight points of the third quarter for a 42-31 advantage.
“We couldn’t hit the broad side of the barn in the first half, but the second half we came out and played better,” said McLaughlin, whose team led just 25-23 at intermission. “The more we picked it up on defense, the more we pushed it and the more we scored.”
Washburn held Katahdin without a field goal for the final 2:52 of the third period, long enough for the Beavers — who shot 11 of 28 overall and 2 of 11 from beyond the 3-point arc in the first half — to use 3-pointers from Mason Turner and Worcester to help extend a 34-31 lead to a double-digit comfort zone.
McLaughlin then opened the fourth quarter with a 3-pointer after teammate Connor Fitzpatrick grabbed an offensive rebound, and the Beavers later hit four straight from beyond the arc — two by Worcester and one each from Turner and McLaughlin — to take a 59-39 lead into the game’s final four minutes.
“The flow of the game wasn’t fast enough for us, 25 points at the half isn’t fast enough for us,” said Washburn coach Randy Norsworthy. “We had a lot better second half after we started pushing the ball, and what makes us do that is playing tough defense.”
Turner finished with 11 points, including three 3-pointers, while Fitzpatrick pulled down a game-high 12 rebounds.
Kolby Gallagher led 12-7 Katahdin with 14 points, while Brandon Robinson added 12 points and sophomore Colton Bivinghouse had 11 points and nine rebounds.
In the second game, Jonesport-Beals scored 21 unanswered points to take a 27-8 lead on a jumper by Alley nine seconds into the second quarter.
But Fort Fairfield came all the way back, making 6 of 10 3-point tries during the third quarter alone to take a 50-48 lead on a shot from behind the arc by Dereck Dufour with 10 seconds left in the period.
This game ultimately went down to the final two minutes, when Matt Alley came up with some big plays to enable the Royals to fend off the upset bid.
The 5-foot-10 junior guard made a follow-up jumper after Vinal Crowley had saved an offensive rebound from going out of bounds to give Jonesport-Beals the lead for good at 66-64 with 1:44 left, then stole the ball and fed Beal for a layup.
After Fort Fairfield star Travis Noyes (26 points, six rebounds) made 1 of 2 from the line to cut the gap to 68-65, Alley hit two free throws to give the Royals a five-point cushion — which they needed when Noyes hit a 3-pointer to make it 70-68 with 52 seconds left.
Fort Fairfield got the ball back with a chance to tie or take the lead after Jonesport-Beals was whistled for an illegal screen, but Noyes missed a 3-pointer and Matt Alley fed Justin Alley for a layup to give the Royals a two-possession lead with 11 seconds left.
“Fort had some shots early that didn’t go, and I knew it was a matter of time,” said Jonesport-Beals coach Vincent MacLean Jr. “They were eventually going to hit them and they did even though we switched defenses. But in the last four or five minutes we went man and got some stops.”
Beal, who made 11 of 17 shots from the field, added seven rebounds for the Royals while Justin Alley finished with 14 points and six rebounds.
Dylan Caldwell contributed 11 points and six rebounds for Fort Fairfield, while Dufour also scored 11 points and Brandon Clark added 10, eight during the first half.
“I certainly was concerned that we were not going to be back in this game,” said Fort Fairfield coach Todd Alley. “I didn’t think we’d quit, but we also knew how great a team Jonesport-Beals is. But to my team’s credit, we came to play our hardest, and that’s what we did in the last three quarters.”