BANGOR — A old sage of the Eastern Maine basketball coaching ranks always said to win the tournament, a team must survive one subpar performance.
Thursday night’s effort by top-seeded Camden Hills was not among its most dominating efforts of the season, but it was good enough to put the Windjammers back in the Class B regional championship game.
Coach Jeff Hart’s team rattled off 20 points during a well-played third quarter, then survived a foul-marred final eight minutes to post at 55-44 victory over fifth-seeded Winslow at the Bangor Auditorium.
“I just told them, you’ve got to survive a stinker,” Hart said after the game, echoing the aforementioned observation. “And I hesitate to say that, no disrespect to Winslow. I thought they did what they needed to do to try to have a chance at the end.”
Camden Hills (20-0) will battle fellow unbeaten and No. 2 Ellsworth (20-0) in Saturday’s 4 p.m. title game. Winslow ended the campaign at 16-4.
It was senior Nate Catell who helped jumpstart the Windjammers during their third-quarter surge. He drained 3-pointers 30 seconds apart to ignite a 10-0 run that gave Camden Hills a 32-18 lead with 5:34 left in the quarter.
“We went out and we were being hesitant. We were playing not to lose, rather than playing our game and playing to win, ” said senior Tyler McFarland, who led Windjammers with 22 points, seven rebounds and two blocked shots.
“Winslow brought the lead to within four and then Nate hit those two big threes, which really boosted us,” McFarland said. “That’s when our outside shots started going, then we started getting more things inside.”
The ’Jammers, who nearly matched their first-half offensive output with the 20-point quarter, took a 42-24 advantage into the fourth quarter. They then held on as the Black Raiders scratched and clawed and fouled but couldn’t get closer than 11.
“At least we had a good third quarter,” Hart said.
“I just thought we did a better job rebounding,” he added. “I thought we were not really paying attention to little things like that.”
Joel Gabriele tossed in 12 points for the winners, while Keegan Pieri contributed seven points, 11 rebounds and two blocks. Adam Carlsen added seven points.
Senior Mike McCann paced Winslow with 16 points and eight rebounds. Justin Murray finished withh six points and six boards.
The Windjammers led 22-15 after a sloppy first half characterized by missed shots and turnovers.
Camden Hills shot 8-for-28 from the floor and committed four turnovers, while Winslow made only 6 of 22 field-goal attempts and turned the ball over eight times.
The Windjammers spotted the Black Raiders a 2-0 edge, then scored eight unanswered points, including two 3-pointers 1:04 apart by Gabriele. He cooled off quickly, picked up his third foul late in the first quarter and sat the rest of the half.
Winslow was able to hang around because of the inside play of McCann and a determined effort on the boards. McCann scored 11 of the Raiders’ 15 points, including three nifty jump hooks from close range over the outstretched arms of McFarland.
While McCann was 5-for-10 shooting, the rest of the Black Raiders mustered only a 1-for-12 effort. Murray, who poured in 30 points in the quarterfinals, was held scoreless.
Camden Hills led by as many as 13 points at 22-9, but Winslow scored the last six points of the half, including two Kody Price foul shots with 0.8 seconds to play in the second quarter, to keep things relatively close.