BANGOR, Maine — As the final seconds ticked off in Friday’s Eastern Maine Class C semifinal between No. 7 Houlton and No. 6 Mattanawcook Academy of Lincoln, sophomore guard Nick Guiod had the ball in his hands in the left corner of the court.
He swished a 3-pointer at the buzzer that gave the Shiretowners a 40-39 win over the Lynx.
“I was scared. I rushed it a bit,” said Guiod of the winning shot. “Luckily, it went in. I thought it was long.”
Houlton will play in Saturday’s 8:45 p.m. EM final against top-seeded Lee Academy. Lee topped No. 4 Penquis of Milo 51-50 in double overtime in Friday’s second semifinal.
During a Houlton timeout with 9.5 seconds remaining, Shiretowners coach Rob Moran called for the ball to go to freshman forward Kyle Bouchard.
“I wanted to get the ball in Bouchard’s hands and see what he could create,” said Moran.
Bouchard, Houlton’s top scorer, saw he was double-teamed as he dribbled toward the lane.
He noticed Guiod open in the corner and quickly passed him the ball.
“I wasn’t afraid to shoot,” Bouchard said, “but I have no problem passing it up [for a good shot].
“The important thing is winning, and that’s what we did.”
Moran wasn’t concerned that Bouchard and Guiod made the play that led to the win.
“We’re young, but we’re battle-tested,” said Moran, who has just three seniors on his squad and guard Doug Dickison is the only one who starts.
And the fact that Houlton got a 3 as its last field-goal try was also fine.
“We wanted to get the best shot available, and it ended up being a 3,” said Moran.
“That’s probably the hardest shot to make in the world and he made it,” said dejected MA coach Ryan Libby.
Mattanawcook took the upper hand at the start of the game, taking an 11-4 edge after the first quarter and going up 22-11 at the half.
“We talked about that at halftime,” said Libby. “If we could have a good third quarter, that would put them down.”
Instead, Houlton got hot.
“I knew I had to come out and play aggressively in the second half,” said Bouchard.
He proceeded to score 12 of his game-high 20 points during a third quarter in which the Shires outscored the Lynx 17-2 to lead by four going into the final quarter.
Houlton pushed the margin to seven a couple of times, but MA (15-6) regained the lead 39-37 with 47.3 seconds, sparked by senior forward Tim Cummings hitting a couple of 3s and senior guard Chase Vicaire scoring four points.
That set up Guiod’s winner.
“That was probably one of the best moments of my life,” said Guiod, “but we’ve got a big game tomorrow now.”
“That was a tough one to lose,” said Libby, “but I wouldn’t change anything defensively.”
Dickison finished with eight points, five rebounds and two steals for Houlton, and Guiod added seven points and three rebounds. Bouchard had four rebounds, three assists and three steals, sophomore center Elyjah Crockett had six rebounds and junior forward Daniel Swallow had eight rebounds.
Vicaire ended with 13 points, five rebounds and three steals, Cummings posted 11 points, nine rebounds and three steals, and senior forward Nick L’Italien had seven rebounds.