WALDOBORO, Maine — Colin Morse largely watched last year as older teammates supplied the heroics during Camden Hills of Rockport’s run to its third straight Eastern Maine Class B title and second state crown in three years.
Now it’s his turn.
Morse, a sophomore forward, made a driving basket with 7.9 seconds left in the fourth quarter to give the Windjammers their only lead of the night –- and the only lead they needed Tuesday to outlast rival Medomak Valley 71-70.
“I realized that I could drive on the guy who was defending me, so I got a ball screen and went to the rack,” said Morse. “It’s just an amazing feeling.”
Morse’s basket capped off a game-ending run of eight unanswered points by Camden Hills, which trailed 70-63 with 2:40 left after Medomak Valley center John Murray converted a three-point play .
But with the relatively inexperienced Windjammers having battled back from deficits of 13, 10 and nine points earlier in the contest, a seven-point deficit didn’t seem insurmountable.
“You just have to have a positive attitude and keep playing hard no matter what the score is,” said senior guard Adam Carlsen, Camden Hills’ lone returning starter from last year’s team. “That’s what we did, we did the same thing we did here last year (when the Windjammers defeated Medomak Valley in overtime). We kept our composure and finished the game off well.”
Morse closed the gap to 70-65 with two free throws after grabbing an offensive rebound, then Carlsen scored from the lane to make it 70-67 with 1:04 left.
Kyle Olehnik forced a held ball and had a steal for the Windjammers on Medomak Valley’s next two possessions, and resulting single free throws by Carlsen and then Olehnik drew Camden Hills within 70-69 with 28.1 seconds remaining.
Medomak’s Shane Osier missed the front end of a one-and-one 10 seconds later, giving Camden Hills one last chance to take the lead.
The Windjammers spread the floor, leaving plenty of room for Morse to use a high screen and get past his defender before floating home the go-ahead shot from the right of the lane.
“I was really open, it was weird,” said Morse. “I guess they thought I was going to kick it out, but I ended up being open. It was good.”
Medomak Valley got one final chance when Osier was fouled with 0.9 seconds left, but the Panthers missed both free throws and this new-look Camden Hills team celebrated a satisfying early season victory.
“I thought even though the tempo of the game was helter-skelter and tough to watch at times, it was better for us,” said Camden Hills coach Jeff Hart. “When you play that way, you’ll fall behind, but you’ve just got to stay with it, be persistent and believe in what you’re doing.
“I thought these kids believed the whole time, they stayed relaxed and they stayed persistent.”
Carlsen led 2-0 Camden Hills offensively with 22 points, nine assists and seven rebounds, while senior center Taylor Hall added 18 points and seven rebounds and Morse finished with 17 points and eight rebounds.
Senior guard Alex Greenrose led 1-1 Medomak Valley with 30 points, 22 in the first half as the Panthers built a 37-24 lead with 1:25 left in the second quarter only to have Camden Hills score the final six points of the period to go into the break trailing just 37-30.
The 6-foot-7 Murray added 13 points and 10 rebounds for Medomak Valley despite dealing with foul trouble for much of the game, while Osier had 11 points and five steals and Ryan Ripley grabbed eight rebounds.
Medomak Valley also played most of the game without senior guard Isaac Greenrose, who started the contest but was unable to continue as the result of an injury suffered during the Panthers’ season-opening win over Oceanside of Rockland-Thomaston last Friday.