OLD TOWN, Maine — Neither an early tipoff time nor another junk defense could slow the Old Town boys basketball team’s early-season momentum late Thursday afternoon.
Senior forward Garrett Libby shook off a scoreless first quarter to total 28 points and nine rebounds as the Coyotes improved their record to 3-1 with a 74-40 victory over Orono at MacKenzie Gymnasium.
The game was shifted to a 4 p.m. start to accommodate a concert at Orono later in the evening that had been postponed Wednesday evening because of inclement weather.
And while Libby may have gotten off to a quiet start as the focus of Orono’s diamond-and-one defensive attention — scoring eight first-half points on 3-of-10 shooting from the field — the reigning Big East Conference player of the year got plenty of help from his teammates early in the contest.
“I expect the pressure, but I know coach (Brian McDormand) wants to get the ball in my hands even in that situation,” said the 6-foot-3-inch Libby. “If I can get a shot, great, but we’ve got other guys that once we get the ball in my hands when I get the double-team, it’s easy to find open guys. One of the best things I can do with how tall I am is to pass over people and get the ball to the other players so they can get easy hoops, hopefully.”
Junior forward Garvey Melmed picked up much of the slack for Old Town with 11 points in the opening half, and the Class B Coyotes’ pressure defense held Class C Orono scoreless for the game’s first 9 minutes, 10 seconds until Red Riots’ sophomore Damien Heeger scored an inside basket off an assist from Justin White.
That ended a game-opening 15-point run by Old Town, which went on to build a 38-15 halftime advantage.
“A lot of the time, they stick that one guy out on Garrett, and they double him and it leaves another guy open,” said Melmed. “We’ve got 10 or 12 guys on our team who are knockdown shooters or can get inside. So when he gets doubled, it makes it an easy two or three for someone else.”
Orono took off the diamond-and-one at the outset of the second half, and Libby soon began finding open shots on the perimeter of the Red Riots’ 2-3 zone.
Libby shot 6 of 12 from 3-point land in the third quarter alone, totaling 20 points in the period as the Coyotes extended their lead to 64-30.
Libby finished the game making 10 of 24 shots overall, including 8 of 18 from beyond the arc.
“I figured they might stay in the (diamond)-and-one the whole game, but when they stopped, it opened up the court a bit and we had a good time,” said Libby.
His eight 3-pointers for the game matched his career high.
“Sometimes in practice, we just have to laugh because Garrett just knocks down three after three,” said Melmed. “We get in his face, and he still makes them unless there’s two or three guys on him.”
Melmed finished with 14 points, including four 3-pointers of his own, to go with six rebounds, while Adam Richardson also had six rebounds for Old Town, and Eddie Gonnella contributed six assists.
Senior guard Corey Riemersma led 0-4 Orono with 11 points and eight rebounds, while 6-8 junior center Michael Chambers added 10 points, five rebounds and three blocks, and White had seven points and five assists.