BANGOR — The Penobscot Valley of Howland boys basketball team overcame the loss of injured senior guard Eddie Cobb to post the program’s first tournament victory at the Bangor Auditorium since 1980 with its 58-42 Eastern C quarterfinal win over defending state champion Washington Academy on Tuesday.
Cobb, the team’s second-leading scorer during the regular season, suffered a left ankle injury during the final minutes of practice Monday and was sitting on the Howlers’ bench with a protective black boot on his ankle during Tuesday’s game.
“It hurt us, especially against their half-court zone pressure, because Eddie can dribble through things, he can pass through things, and he’s been a key to our breaking pressure,” said PVHS coach Jamie Russell. “Then with 15 minutes left in practice (Monday) night we’re faced with the knowledge that we’re not going to have him.
“That changed our plans a little bit, and it took us a while to get settled in.”
The second-ranked Howlers and seventh-seeded Washington Academy of East Machias — which had no starters back from last year’s state title team — were locked in a tight game until seniors Joe McCloskey and Jacob Jones led on a 15-2 run to give PVHS a 31-17 halftime lead.
The Howlers, who last reached the semifinals 31 years ago after a 76-56 quarterfinal win over Woodland, head back to the semifinals at 7:05 p.m. Friday against No. 6 Sumner of East Sullivan. The Tigers defeated No. 3 Calais 64-57 for their first tourney win at Bangor since a 79-60 victory over Katahdin in the 1999 regional quarterfinals.
Whether Cobb is in the lineup or back on the bench is unclear.
“I would say he’s very iffy for Friday,” said Russell. “I suspect he’s not playing. We’re going to go in with the plan that he’s not going to be there.”
A quiet tribute
Among the noticeable differences in this year’s Eastern B, C and D tournament is the absence along press row of Lawrence “Red” St. Louis, a longtime referee and former coach who died on Feb. 2 at age 65.
St. Louis was a fixture at the officials’ table during tourney time, helping Maine commissioner of basketball Peter Webb and assistant Dave Ames in their duties and more noticeably offering up some lighthearted moments to any friends who passed by.
Longtime tourney fan Dick McQuesten of Charleston is paying tribute to his friendship with St. Louis this week by leaving a red rose each day at St. Louis’ seat on press row.
McQuesten recalled his own tourney moments with St. Louis, as well as how St. Louis befriended his granddaughter, Sam Snyder, when she started attending the tournament with him as a 4-year-old more than a decade ago.
“I have a picture of them together, and it means the world to me,” said McQuesten. “Red was a great guy.”