HERMON, Maine — The Hermon Hawks frustrated Mount Desert Island of Bar Harbor with a zone defense for much of their Class B boys basketball matchup Wednesday evening.
But they had no answer for Woofie.
Chris “Woofie” Kaiser, a 6-foot-7-inch senior center, came off the MDI bench to score 14 points and grab 10 rebounds as MDI improved its record to 14-3 with a hard-fought 58-49 victory.
Kaiser had 10 points and four rebounds to help the Trojans take a 31-29 halftime lead, then returned to contribute four points and two rebounds in the game’s final two minutes as MDI finally pulled away.
Kaiser’s work on the backboards, combined with a nine-rebound effort from 6-foot-5-inch classmate Adam Gray, helped MDI finish the night with a 30-17 rebounding advantage.
“Woofie didn’t play a ton the last game, but you saw tonight there was no hesitation in his confidence,” said MDI coach Justin Norwood. “Woofie was huge tonight. He rebounded really well and he finished well. He had a great game.”
Senior forward Ben Walls finished with a game-high 16 points — 12 in the second half — for MDI while junior point guard Jonathan Phelps added 12 points to help the Trojans overcome 15 turnovers.
“We’ve had some trouble against zones in past games, we don’t move it as well as we should from the start,” said Walls. “But the big guy stepped up. Woofie Kaiser came to work.
“He’s so big that everyone around him seems small and you just throw it up and he goes and gets it because he jumps real high, and he got some big points for us tonight.”
The victory helped MDI remain in contention for a top-three finish and a preliminary-round bye in Eastern B, though the Trojans will need a win over Ellsworth in their season finale as well as some Heal point help elsewhere to achieve that conclusion to their regular season.
Hermon fell to 7-10 and remains in 11th place in the Heal point ratings with a game left at John Bapst scheduled for late Friday afternoon. Thirteen teams in the division qualify for postseason play.
This game was tight throughout, with the final score matching the largest lead held by either team.
Hermon took its largest lead by capitalizing on early MDI turnovers to score the game’s first six points, only to have the Trojans counter with seven straight points to mark the first of 14 first-half lead changes.
The third quarter produced five more lead changes and a tie before Phelps scored on a drive with 32 seconds left in the period to give MDI a 42-40 lead to take into the game’s final eight minutes.
A three-point play by senior center Joey Martin off an interior pass from classmate Fritz Marseille rallied Hermon to a 45-45 tie with 6:19 left before Walls gave MDI the lead for good with a jumper from the right side of the free-throw line with 5:53 remaining.
After Gray made two free throws with 3:38 remaining, Marseille scored from the lane to pull Hermon back within two at 49-47 before MDI scored seven unanswered points to finally put the game away.
Walls made a left-handed layup off a feed from Kaiser, then Kaiser scored a backdoor layup off a high-post feed from Gray to give the Trojans a 53-47 lead with 1:44 remaining.
MDI soon got the ball back and Hermon needed to commit three team fouls before sending the Trojans to the line, where Walls made 3 of 4 attempts during two trips to stretch the MDI advantage out to 56-47 with 22.5 seconds remaining.
Junior guard Tyler Thayer paced Hermon with 13 points, while backcourt mate Jacob Rioux scored 12 points and Marseille and Martin each scored 10 points.