ROCKPORT — The Medomak Valley boys basketball team has some lofty goals this winter.
One step along the path toward the Panthers’ ultimate championship aspirations was to defeat their neighbors, something the Waldoboro-based team accomplished for the first time in several seasons Tuesday night with a 74-62 Class B victory over Camden Hills.
“It feels great,” said Isaac Greenrose, who scored a game-high 27 points for Medomak Valley. “I know we could have done it all along, but mental toughness is a big part of it and we’re playing with a lot of confidence now.”
Perhaps just as important than the victory for Medomak Valley was the return to action of 6-foot-8 junior center John Murray.
Murray, sidelined for the last five weeks by an injury to his left knee, contributed 15 points and eight rebounds to help the Panthers move up to second place in the Eastern Maine Class B Heal point rankings and improve their record to 11-2.
“Actually he played a few more minutes than I thought he would tonight,” said Medomak Valley coach Nick DePatsy. “But he looked pretty good out there. His timing isn’t good on his shot yet, but he’s 6-8 and any time you can bring someone like that off the bench, it’s a big plus.”
Murray’s presence was needed because a Camden Hills team that entered the contest having lost four of its previous six games was determined to maintain its recent dominance of this rivalry.
Medomak Valley initially threatened to break the game open in the second quarter, as senior guard Shane Osier scored eight points as the Panthers outscored 19-8 over the final 4:42 of the period to build a 43-27 halftime lead.
But when Medomak Valley came out sluggishly to open the second half, Camden Hills eventually began taking its offense to the basket rather than rely on 3-pointers — the Windjammers made just 4 of 25 attempts from beyond the arc for the night — and crawled back into contention.
A three-point play on an inbounds pass from Adam Carlsen to Connor Hart capped off a 9-0 run that drew Camden Hills within 49-42 with 15 seconds left in the third quarter, but Greenrose hit a 3-pointer nine seconds later to restore Medomak Valley to a 10-point lead at the end of the period.
And when Camden Hills continued drawing closer — twice pulling within six points, the last time at 54-48 on a Kyle Olehnik layup with 6:38 left in the game — Greenrose and Co. responded with a decisive counterattack.
The senior guard first hit a 3-pointer and converted a baseline drive on back-to-back possessions, then reserve guard Jonathan Hendrickson-Belloguet took a steal in for a layup and Greenrose followed with another drive, and the Panthers’ lead was back to 63-50 with 4:20 remaining.
Camden Hills (8-5) got no closer than eight points the rest of the way, as Medomak Valley made seven of eight from the free-throw line over the last 2:50 of play, including the final six in a row.
“I was very nervous because they’re the type of team that’s going to have its runs and we’ve got to stop them,” said DePatsy. “They had their run, but fortunately we got some run-outs and some easy layups and Isaac made a big three and we were able to hold them off.
Greenrose finished with a 10-of-18 shooting night overall, including five of seven from beyond the 3-point arc.
“The first time we played them Isaac hardly played,” said DePatsy, whose team avenged a 71-70 loss to Camden Hills at Waldoboro on Dec. 13. “But since he’s come back he’s been consistently around 20 points a game. He takes good shots, he’s been a leader, and the thing I like about him has been his defense and rebounding. He can play inside or out, he can defend a big or a guard.
“And he’s hit some huge shots for us this year.”
Alex Greenrose, Isaac’s twin brother, added 11 points and four assists for the Panthers, while
Osier finished with 10 points.
Sophomore forward Chandler Crans led Camden Hills with 15 points, while Carlsen added 14 and Hart had 12 points, 12 rebounds and five assists.
Windjammers’ senior center Taylor Hall, sidelined briefly late in the first half with an ankle injury, returned to action at the start of the third quarter and finished the game with 10 points and seven rebounds.