BANGOR, Maine — The sixth-seeded Deer Isle-Stonington High School Mariners will meet top seed Jonesport-Beals in Saturday’s 10:45 a.m. Eastern Maine Class D Tournament boys basketball final after upsetting No. 2 Central Aroostook of Mars Hill 67-55 Thursday afternoon at the Bangor Auditorium.
Junior guard Sam Grindle scored 23 points and dished out six assists, both game-highs, and also grabbed seven rebounds to pace the 14-7 Mariners.
Top-seeded Jonesport-Beals, 17-2, ousted fourth-seeded Katahdin of Stacyville 76-49 in the second game. Jonesport-Beals beat Deer Isle-Stonington twice during the regular season, both times by 17-point margins.
In the opener, junior forward Tim Cormier contributed 17 points and nine rebounds and junior guard Connor Morey chipped in with 10 points and four rebounds for Deer Isle-Stonington.
The Mariners used a 14-0 run in the third quarter to build a 47-34 lead, getting points from four different players including five from Grindle and four from Cormier.
The Mariners used clutch free throws in the fourth quarter to hold off the rallying Panthers, who cut the lead to four on two occasions in the final 1:56 before the Mariners scored the game’s final eight points.
Grindle hit 10 of 14 free throws in the fourth quarter.
Senior center Mike McClung had 21 points and a game-high 13 rebounds and four blocked shots for defending state champ Central Aroostook, which finished up at 18-3. He also had a team-high four assists.
Brendan York had 12 points, three rebounds and two steals for Central Aroostook. Dan Brewer contributed 11 points.
“We took care of the ball and took good shots,” said Grindle. “We wanted to shut down McClung and make their other guys shoot from the outside and it worked well.”
McClung went 10-for-15 from the floor but his mates went just 12-for-30, 4-for-14 from beyond the 3-point arc.
The smaller Mariners used their quickness and tenacity to outrebound Central Aroostook 26-22.
Deer Isle-Stonington shot seven-for-12 from the floor in the decisive third quarter while Central Aroostook went just three for 11.
“We didn’t play with much energy until the final two minutes of the third quarter. We came out flat in the third quarter and those four or five minutes cost us the game,” said Central Aroostook coach Tim Brewer who also felt his team played too much one-on-one basketball and had too many turnovers including “around 10 player-control fouls.”
“The better team won today,” added Brewer who was proud of his team’s fourth-quarter rally.
The Mariners were patient offensively and did an impressive job finding the open man.
“Coach [Glenn] Billings told us before the game to be patient and wait for the open shot. He didn’t want one-and-dones,” said Cormier.
“[Rebounding-wise] we’re smaller than most teams so we have to hustle for everything we get.”
In the second game, the Royals dominated the rebounding to fuel a quick-striking transition attack that carried them past the Cougars and into the finals.
Jonesport-Beals slowed Katahdin (15-6) with a swarming 3-2 zone defense that caused several of the Cougars’ 20 turnovers. The Royals also took advantage of their frontcourt height advantage to grab a 44-28 rebounding edge.
“We really came to play defensively and rebounding,” said junior forward Garet Beal.
“That was good team defense,” he added. “That’s probably one of the better games we’ve played defensively.”
The rebounds often led to quick outlet passes and Jonesport-Beals successfully attacked the basket with an aggressive, unselfish performance. The Royals were able to find the open man for layups and close-range baskets.
“We don’t match up very well with them,” said Katahdin co-coach Cliff Urquhart.
“We knew we had to keep the score in the 40s and 50s and that transition just killed us,” he added. “Every time we’d miss a shot, we didn’t get any offensive rebounds and they were out on the break. We didn’t have an answer for that.”
Senior Matthew Alley went 11-for-17 from the floor on his way to a game-high 25 points for Jonesport-Beals, which shot 53 percent (31-for-59) from the field. Garet Beal dominated the paint by scoring 20 points and grabbing 12 rebounds. He also dished out six assists.
Senior Justin Alley tossed in 15 points with nine rebounds and Vinal Crowley contributed five points, five rebounds, two assists, two steals and three blocked shots. Thomas Beal also was solid coming off the bench.
“We knew that we needed to get the whole team involved,” Garet Beal said. “We worked on the inside-out game.”
Katahdin was paced by 16 points and five rebounds from junior Colton Bivighouse. Bill Livezey posted nine points and six assists, Jesse McNally provided eight points and six boards and Braden Cunningham chipped in with six points.
Jonesport-Beals built its success around its defense, which started out as man-to-man and eventually switched to the fluid zone. Katahdin shot six-for-21 in the first half.
The Royals ran off 10 unanswered points in the first quarter to take a 17-8 lead. They then went on a 12-4 surge in the second quarter to take control.
It began with Matthew Alley’s 15-footer off a Crowley assist, then Garet Beal scored on a putback. Cunningham answered for the Cougars with two foul shots, before Justin Alley converted an offensive rebound.
Bivighouse scored a rebound hoop — Katahdin’s first field goal in more than nine minutes — but Matthew Alley hit an 18-footer and Garet Beal made a layup in transition to make it 29-14 with 3:01 left in the half.
The Royals later went on a 16-2 third-quarter binge to pull away.