ORONO, Maine — Dayne Savage displayed a flair for the dramatic in his high school basketball debut Saturday.
The freshman guard scored 13 points for Caribou in its season opener against John Bapst of Bangor, including a game-winning 3-pointer with 7.2 seconds remaining as the Vikings earned a satisfying 39-37 road victory at the University of Maine’s Memorial Gymnasium.
John Bapst took a 37-36 lead on two free throws by Andrew Gatchell with 48.3 seconds left, then Caribou called timeout after working the clock down to 19.7 seconds remaining.
The Vikings subsequently passed the ball around the perimeter until point guard Chad Caverhill penetrated to the right side of the free-throw line and passed the ball back across the key to Savage, who stepped into a high-arching shot from well beyond the college 3-point line to give Caribou a two-point lead.
“We were trying to get Chad into the lane, not necessarily to score but perhaps to dump off,” said Caribou coach Chris Casavant. “Dayne has played enough basketball so he understands that we were losing and if he doesn’t shoot it, if he looks to give it up in that situation, then we get beat.”
The game-winner was Savage’s third 3-pointer.
“We were just trying to work it around and get a good shot,” said Savage. “I was ready. I told Chad I was ready.”
With Caribou still armed with a foul to give before John Bapst would shoot the one-and-one, Caverhill fouled John Bapst’s Peter Pfister with 0.7 seconds left, and the Crusaders were unable to get off a shot in time after inbounding the ball.
“Chad actually fouled a little later than we wanted to, but that’s OK,” said Casavant. “We talked about not getting beat long, keeping the man in front, switching on all the screens that they could switch on and then using the foul we had to use, a foul we had thought we might have to use when we were behind.”
Caverhill, one of just two seniors on a Caribou roster that also includes three juniors, five sophomores and two freshmen, led the Vikings with a game-high 16 points, while sophomore forward Cody Herbert grabbed eight rebounds.
Pfister scored a team-high 11 points for John Bapst, which was hampered by foul difficulty to starting center Max Andrews. Andrews scored the Crusaders’ first two baskets of the game but managed just one point the rest of the way in limited minutes before fouling out in the fourth quarter.
Gatchell and Adam Strang had eight points and five rebounds apiece for John Bapst.
The Crusaders jumped out to an 11-5 lead midway through the first quarter, but Caribou answered with 10 straight points to take its largest lead of the game at 15-11 on a 3-pointer by Savage from the right corner followed by two Caverhill free throws with 5:38 left in the opening half.
John Bapst regained the lead on a 3-pointer by Pfister and a jumper by Gatchell and held a 20-18 lead at the break.
Caribou stayed close, with Caverhill feeding Herbert for a jumper from the lane and then scoring himself from the right of the free-throw line to give the Vikings a 24-23 lead midway through the third quarter.
But Sean O’Donnell and Pfister hit back-to-back 3-pointers to give John Bapst its largest lead of the half at 29-24, only to have Caverhill counter with a pair of jumpers to close the gap to 31-30 entering the final period.
“At that point we just had to buckle down on defense,” said Caverhill. “Coach tells us everything starts from good defense, so we get a couple of stops and they turn into good possessions down at the other end and we’re right back in it.”
John Bapst twice held a three-point lead in the fourth quarter, the last time at 35-32 on an inside basket by Strang with 6:22 left.
But Savage scored on a steal and layup to make it a one-point game with 3:39 remaining, and while Caribou came up empty on two subsequent chances to take the lead, Caverhill made a 15-footer from the right of the free-throw line to give the Vikings a 36-35 edge with 1:17 to play.