NEWPORT — Ethan Pearl wasn’t at his accurate best from the field Monday afternoon, making just four of 16 shots as the Nokomis boys basketball team attempted to hold off Camden Hills of Rockport during their battle of Class B contenders.
So the 6-foot-2 senior forward found other ways to spark the Warriors — making 15 of 18 free-throw tries, grabbing nine rebounds and dishing out four assists as Nokomis outlasted the Windjammers 80-71 in overtime.
“I was cold,” said Pearl, who finished with a team-high 23 points. “I’ve been short-arming my shots — the three foul shots I missed I short-armed, too — but I was just trying to contribute in any way I could.
“It doesn’t matter how many points I score, but how many points the team scores and if we score more than the opponent.”
Two days removed from a 68-46 loss at Medomak Valley of Waldoboro, Nokomis is now 8-2 and continues its rugged midseason stretch with home games against Gardiner on Friday and Leavitt of Turner Center on Jan. 24 before a road test at Oceanside of Rockland on Jan. 26. Those three teams along with Medomak Valley and Camden Hills entered Monday’s play with a combined 39-11 record.
“We did not play very well Saturday,” said Nokomis coach Carl Parker. “The kids didn’t play well and I didn’t coach well, so this was a good way for us to bounce back.”
Camden Hills, with just one starter back from last year’s state championship team, is 7-4 and has dropped four of its last five games.
Pearl helped extend the Windjammers’ slump with 15 points during the fourth quarter and overtime, making 11 of 14 free throws during that span.
“Having great leadership from Pearl really pulls us through those times when everyone else is clueless about what to do,” said Nokomis sophomore forward Devin Chambers, who worked inside for 14 points and nine rebounds before fouling out midway through overtime. “He just knows what to do, and he’s always there for us.”
Sixth man Spencer Hartsgrove made 9 of 10 from the line en route to a 17-point performance, as Nokomis converted 33 of 41 free-throw attempts overall. Junior guard Drew Wing added 10 points, all in the first half, while sophomore forward Andrew Cartwright scored nine points and blocked three shots.
Taylor Hall paced Camden Hills with 23 points on 10-of-13 shooting from the field, and the senior center also grabbed a game-high 10 rebounds.
Sophomore forward Chandler Crans came off the bench to score 18 points, including four 3-point goals, for the Windjammers.
Nokomis used an 18-1 first-quarter run to build a 19-7 lead, but Camden Hills maintained contact with the Warriors in part because of its ability to score at the end of each quarter.
A 3-pointer by Crans with four seconds left in the opening period cut the Windjammers’ deficit to 19-10 and three free throws by Connor Hart after he was fouled on 3-point try as time expired in the first half pulled Camden Hills within 34-27.
Another three-point possession, this one a basket and free throw by Hall with 2.3 seconds left in the third quarter, enabled coach Jeff Hart’s club to close within 48-43.
Camden Hills leading scorer Adam Carlsen was saddled with foul trouble throughout the contest, but the senior guard made his only two baskets of the game early in the fourth quarter, back-to-back 3-pointers that helped draw the Windjammers within 56-53 with 5:14 remaining.
Nokomis stretched its lead back to six points on a three-point play by Chambers, but Crans made two 3-pointers from the right wing and Andrew Flanagan hit two free throws to help Camden Hills forge a 64-64 tie with 28.5 seconds left.
Pearl regained the lead for Nokomis with a pull-up jumper from the lane nine seconds later, but Flanagan’s 10-foot jumper with six seconds left sent the teams to overtime tied at 66-66.
Camden Hills took its first lead since racing out to a 6-1 advantage two minutes into the contest when Crans made two free throws 14 seconds into the extra period.
But Nokomis point guard Ruel Libby picked up a loose ball and fed Chambers for a layup, then made a free throw to give the Warriors a 69-68 lead with 3:07 left in overtime.
Hartsgrove soon came up with a steal — one of 30 Camden Hills turnovers during the game — and his layup extended the margin to three points before the Warriors preserved their lead as Pearl took another steal in for a layup and made five late free throws to go with two from the line by Cartwright.