BANGOR, Maine — Defense and rebounding can carry a team a long way in basketball.
The fifth-seeded Presque Isle High School Wildcats proved that Saturday morning as they avenged two regular-season losses to fourth-seeded Ellsworth by beating the Eagles in the Eastern Maine Class B boys quarterfinals 57-46 at the Bangor Auditorium.
Presque Isle outrebounded Ellsworth 26-16 and turned in a clinical defensive performance, limiting the Eagles to 31.5 percent shooting from the floor.
Presque Isle received 20 points, eight rebounds and three assists from Andrew Kofstad and 17 points, 11 rebounds and four assists from Matt Eager.
The Eagles, with just one player over 6-foot-1, were at a distinct height disadvantage and had no answer for the 6-3 Kofstad and 6-6 Eager.
“We knew team defense was something we had to put an emphasis on. We weren’t happy with how it was at the beginning of the year so we’ve been working on it and we did a pretty good job today,” said Kofstad. “We really wanted to stop their 3-point attack and knock down our free throws.”
Ellsworth made just 6 of 23 3-pointers and PI went 18-for-30 from the free throw line, including 14-for-20 in the fourth quarter.
Kofstad was 4 for 8 on 3-pointers.
“The guards did a good job getting me some open looks,” said Kofstad.
Presque Isle outscored Ellsworth 9-3 in the second quater to take a 22-17 halftime lead and rattled off a 10-2 run to open the second half as Kofstad hit a pair of 3-pointers and a layup and fed Eager for a base-line layup.
The Eagles clawed to within 34-28 but Kofstad’s 3-pointer, Eager’s two free throws and Cole Richards’ layup re-established a 41-28 lead.
Tyler Brooks had eight points for the 14-5 Wildcats while Ellsworth, which finished at 13-6, was led by Nick Holt’s 11 points, Steven Mahon’s 10 and eight apiece from Josh Bean and Thomas Sawyer. Kyle Haslam added seven points, three rebounds, three steals and three assists. Bean and Sawyer had four rebounds and three assists each.