BANGOR — No. 4 Penquis held off a furious challenge from No. 5 Fort Kent to earn a 64-61 victory in Tuesday night’s Eastern Maine Class C boys basketball quarterfinal at the Bangor Auditorium.
Trevor Lyford poured in 30 points to lead the Patriots of Milo, who will face No. 1 Lee, the defending state champion, in a semifinal Friday afternoon. Lee rolled by No. 8 Orono 65-38 in the nightcap.
Penquis overcame a stellar game by Thomas Enerva, Fort Kent’s 6-foot-9 senior center, who racked up 30 points on 14-for-20 shooting, and a game-high and career-best 26 rebounds, 12 of which were offensive boards. His inside play helped the Warriors claw back from a 32-19 halftime deficit.
Enerva keyed a 10-0 Fort Kent run in the third quarter. A Lyford jumper gave the Patriots a 39-38 lead going into the fourth, but Enerva came back with an offensive rebound and putback to put the Warriors ahead again.
“We came out shooting really well, but no lead is safe at the Auditorium, we know that,” Lyford said. “They started to pound it down low and get offensive rebounds. We wanted to let [Enerva] catch it inside because we know he’s as good of a passer as he is of a shooter. We wanted somebody else to make a play and double-down him if we could. It was tough to keep him off the glass.”
There were five more lead changes in the fourth quarter until a jumper by Isaiah Bess (16 points, seven rebounds) gave Penquis the lead for good. Following a timeout, the Patriots went on a 7-0 stretch, including a Lyford 3-pointer off a pass from Bess.
The Warriors had eight turnovers in the fourth quarter.
“I think it was a mental lapse,” said Enerva. “We were nervous and wanted to get the ball down, and threw it away a couple of times.”
Lyford had a stellar first quarter, hitting his first five shots of the game and finishing the period with 11 points. He struggled from the field a bit after that, but helped seal the win with a 10-for-13
effort from the free-throw line in the fourth quarter.
Albert Smith had a team-best eight rebounds for Penquis. Cody Plourde added 13 points for Fort Kent.
In the nightcap, Lee had too much size, speed and star power for the Red Riots, as the Pandas stormed to a double-digit lead early and never let up en route the win.
Coach Randy Harris’ top-ranked Pandas (17-2) split against Penqus in their regular-season meetings.
Eighth-seeded Orono wraps up at 10-10.
This contest was never in doubt, as the Pandas held the Red Riots to four first-half field goals in building a 39-7 halftime lead that was never threatened thanks to Lee’s athleticism, quickness and size.
“We wanted to make it an 84-foot game,” said Harris. “They wanted it low-scoring, they wanted it halfcourt, so we certainly got at the pace we wanted very quickly.”
Boubacar Diallo was a huge catalyst offensively for Lee, scoring 18 of his game-high 20 points in the first half, as the Riots’ defense had trouble stopping him on dribble-penetration. He also had four assists.
“When we share the basketball, we’re awfully good,” Harris said. “Every guard made the extra pass.”
Dustin Sawtelle and Harris Karagic were the other Pandas in double-figures with 10 points apiece, while Lee’s full-court pressure forced the Riots into 28 turnovers and held them without a field goal over an eight-minute span over the end of the first quarter and halfway through the second.
The balanced scoring was key as guard D.J. Johnson struggled on 2-for-8 shooting from the floor.
“D.J.’s been our best shooter for most of the season,” said Harris. “The other guys picked the slack up.”
With a large lead coming out of halftime, the Pandas got a little sloppy with the ball, turning it over 11 times, but Harris was happy with his club’s foul shooting, which has been an Achillies’ heal throughout the year.
“We’re shooting about 50 percent as a team from the foul line, which is not going to get it done in close games,” he said. “We turned the ball over too much. The second half, our focus was not good.”
Jasil Elder had five steals on defense for Lee while Diallo and Johnson had three apiece.
Tyler Eddy was the lone Orono player in double figures with 18 points.