JONESPORT — When Garet Beal recently visited his buddy Mitch Worcester up in Aroostook County, one thing he wanted to learn was how other high school basketball players prepared for game night.
Beal noticed Worcester and his Washburn boys basketball teammates playing video games before one of their victories this season, so he figured he’d try the same thing.
So after playing some video basketball on his Xbox late Tuesday afternoon, Beal went out and erupted for a career-high 40 points as Jonesport-Beals handled Calais 68-42 in a Downeast Athletic Conference battle of unbeatens.
And a pregame ritual was born.
“They were all playing video games,” recalled Beal after leading the Royals to their seventh win of the season. “I figured it was worth a try.”
Beal, a 6-foot-5 junior forward who was a third-team Bangor Daily News All-Maine choice last winter, at times performed with almost computer-like efficiency against a Calais team that similarly hadn’t been tested while winning its first five games of the season.
Beal made 16 of his 21 field-goal tries, including 2 of 4 from beyond the 3-point arc, and he also went 6 of 8 from the free-throw line.
“They’re a heck of a team and it looked like Garet was a man playing against a bunch of boys out there tonight,” said Calais coach Ed Leeman. “We let him get his confidence early, and I think we’ve got to do a better job of playing tougher. I don’t think we played tough tonight, we’ve got to find a toughness factor that we need to have but don’t have right now.”
While Beal was an offensive constant for the Royals — highlighted by a 16-point second quarter that helped Jonesport-Beals stretch an 8-4 lead at the end of the first period to 30-19 by intermission — he and his teammates set the game’s tone with their interior defense and fullcourt pressure.
Junior forward Vinal Crowley had four blocked shots in the first half alone, while 6-6 senior center Justin Alley added a game-high six blocks while hurrying Calais into missed close-range shots and otherwise relegating the Blue Devils’ offense to the perimeter.
“I knew they were going to be ready for us today, but we came out ready defensively and we were also able to work the ball inside and then work it back out,” said Beal. “We’re really stressing our defense.”
Jonesport-Beals also dominated the backboards, with Alley, Beal and Crowley combining for 31 rebounds as the Royals earned a 43-33 advantage on the glass.
“I think we took advantage of our size,” said Beal, who finished the night with 10 rebounds, “and we rebounded and ran the ball well and got a bunch of layups.”
Jonesport-Beals led just 10-8 after Calais’ Joe Mitchell scored on a feed from Jeremy Beers a minute into the second quarter, but Beal converted a baseline drive into a 3-point play and then went the length of the court for a layup to ignite an 18-6 run that was capped off by a Beal 3-pointer with 2:18 left before intermission.
Calais remained within 40-29 midway through the third quarter before Jonesport-Beals closed out the period with a 13-2 run that included nine more points from Beal and drives by both Crowley and Alley.
Jonesport-Beals took its 53-32 lead into the final quarter, and Calais got no closer than 19 over the final eight minutes of play.
“I thought we came out a little flat, but Calais is a good team and they play well defensively and they kind of had the tempo the way they wanted it in the first half,” said Jonesport-Beals coach Gordon Faulkingham. “In the second half we picked up our defense and that made the difference.”
Justin Alley finished with 10 points, 11 rebounds and five blocked shots for Jonesport-Beals, while Crowley had eight points, nine rebounds and four blocks and senior point guard Matthew Alley scored eight points and dished out seven assists.
“Vinal has stepped up quite a bit this year,” said Beal. “He had to fill in a big role for (the graduated) Zac Smith, and I think he’s doing a good job with it.”
Senior center Roger Socobasin led Calais with 10 points and 10 rebounds, while senior point guard Jeff Jones and freshman forward Tyler Niles each added seven points.