ORLANDO, Fla. — The Maine Athletic Club opened medal-round play at the AAU 8th Grade Basketball Division I National Championships on Tuesday with a 62-59 victory over a team from Atlanta, Ga.
The win advances the Hampden-based team to the final 32 teams in the field, which began with 104 teams from around the country, and a matchup Wednesday against a team from Ohio.
MAC entered Tuesday’s game with a 2-1 pool-play record and facing an Atlanta team that won its pool with a 3-0 record.
The Maine team built a nine-point lead midway through the second quarter and maintained a 30-25 lead at halftime.
The Atlanta team took a 51-49 lead midway through the third quarter, but a reverse layup by Conar Moore of Hampden gave MAC the lead for good, 53-51 with 2:26 left in the period.
MAC built its lead to 58-53 with 1:31 left in the game but missed four straight free throws, enabling Atlanta to pull within 58-56 before Jake Black made both ends of a one-and-one to give MAC a four-point lead with 19 seconds left.
Nick Gilpin, back after missing two games due to an ankle injury, followed with two free throws to give MAC a 62-57 lead, and while Atlanta made a quick basket to make it a three-point game, a last-second 3-point try by the Georgians fell short.
Tom Coyne led MAC with 24 points, while Gilpin, Moore and Brendan McIntyre each scored 10 points and Black added eight.
On Monday, MAC suffered its first loss of the tournament, falling to a team from Virginia 64-42 in its final game of pool play..
The Virginia team, which was seeded ninth in the original 104-team field, jumped out to an early lead against MAC and led by as many as 21 points during the second quarter. The Maine squad rallied within 14 points later in the contest, but could get no closer.
McIntyre and Coyne led MAC with 11 points each, while Moore scored nine points, Robinson had seven and Black scored four points.