CALAIS, Maine — The Washington Academy boys basketball team finally regained its shooting touch Thursday night, and no one was hotter than Gage Feeney.
Feeney, a 6-foot-4-inch sophomore, scored a career-high 26 points as the Raiders shot 52 percent from the field to outlast Calais 73-65 in the latest renewal of their Down East rivalry.
The win — which avenged a 70-63 loss to the Blue Devils at East Machias on Dec. 17 — earned the 4-7 Raiders valuable Heal points as they seek to earn an Eastern Maine Class B playoff berth.
We shot the ball pretty well,” said WA coach Steve Pineo, whose team made 30 of its 57 field-goal attempts as well as 10 of 12 from the free-throw line. “We certainly have been taking a lot of shots in practice. We haven’t shot the ball this year like I thought we would, but these guys certainly are capable of it.
“I thought we came out ready to play tonight. These guys know our backs are up against the wall and we’ve got to start winning some ballgames.”
Calais, which entered the game ranked seventh in Eastern C, is now 10-2.
“I just think we were out of sync and not ready to go,” said Blue Devils’ coach Ed Leeman. “It didn’t seem to be our night tonight, but we still fought back and had a chance to win it.”
Feeney, who has returned to the WA lineup this winter after suffering a knee injury during his team’s preliminary-round loss at Camden Hills of Rockport last February, shot 10 of 14 from the field — mostly midrange jump shots — and 6 of 6 from the free-throw line.
“The team got me the ball, and I got good looks and didn’t rush anything and I was able to make my shots,” said Feeney, who also grabbed a team-high 11 rebounds. “The midrange jump shot is a big part of my game. All the time I was coming back from my knee surgery I shot jumpers all day long.”
Jacob Schoppee added 15 points for Washington Academy while backcourt mate Tyler Varney had 13 points and five assists. Andrew Farnsworth contributed 13 points.
Calais also got big production from its sophomore class, as guard Kyle Johnson and forward Tyler Niles combined for 42 points and 19 rebounds. Johnson found driving lanes to the basket en route to a 22-point, six-rebound effort, while the 6-2 Niles worked the low post for 20 points and a game-high 13 rebounds.
Devin Hall, the Blue Devils’ leading scorer entering the contest, finished with 10 points, seven in the fourth quarter, as Calais rallied to within a single point before WA scored the game’s final seven points.
“One of the keys to the game we thought was holding Hall down,” said Pineo, “and I thought Andrew Farnsworth did a super job playing defense on him.”
WA took the lead for good with an 20-3 run midway through the first half. The Raiders scored 11 unanswered points late in the first quarter — including five by Varney and four by Feeney — to take a 19-11 lead before Johnson closed out the period with a drive to draw Calais to within six points.
But Feeney made a baseline jumper to open the second quarter, marking the start of a seven-point run that gave Washington Academy a 26-13 cushion on a 3-pointer by Farnsworth with 5:34 left in the half.
The Raiders’ lead grew to as much as 28-14 on a jumper by Schoppee, but Johnson converted a three-point play and two driving runners from the lane to go with a 3-pointer by Cordell Hold that helped Calais close within 39-31 at the break despite the fact that WA had shot 63 percent (17 of 27) from the field in the opening two periods.
Washington Academy maintained a lead between six and 11 points throughout the third quarter as Feeney scored eight points in the period, but Johnson and Hall each made two late free throws to pull Calais back within 54-48 entering the final period.
WA stretched its advantage back out to as much as 62-53 on a long jumper by Feeney two minutes into the fourth quarter, but Johnson made 1 of 2 from the line and Niles then scored twice, the first by following in his own miss and the second off a nice interior pass from Hall, to narrow the gap to 62-58 with less than five minutes remaining.
An inside basket by Austin Seavey gave Washington Academy a 66-60 lead with 3:46 to play, but Hall converted a three-point play and then made two free throws on Calais’ next possession to make it a one-point game with 2:07 left.
The Blue Devils then gained possession with a chance to take the lead but missed two shots, and Varney finally gave Washington Academy some breathing room with a fast-break layup good for a 68-65 lead with 1:20 left.
Calais came up empty on its next possession, and the Raiders put the game away with five late free throws, four by Feeney.