ROCKPORT, Maine — Eighth-ranked Camden Hills jumped out to an 8-0 lead less than two minutes into the game and never trailed in defeating No. 9 Nokomis of Newport 62-46 in an Eastern Maine Class B boys basketball prelim Wednesday night.
“We got off to a good start and once we did that we never really looked back,” said Camden Hills senior guard Connor Hart. “It was close all game, but we held enough of a lead to win in the end.”
The victory advances the Windjammers (13-6) to a regional quarterfinal Saturday against top-seeded Medomak Valley of Waldoboro (16-2). Medomak Valley edged Camden Hills twice during the regular season, 63-60 at Waldoboro on Dec. 11 and 95-91 in four overtimes at Rockport on Jan. 31.
“We’ve got some pretty good weapons,” said Camden Hills coach Jeff Hart, no relation to Connor Hart. “If we just play together and stay organized, I like our chances of being able to play with anybody.”
Nokomis ends its season with a 10-9 record.
Junior forward Colin Morse led a balanced Camden Hills attack with 14 points and nine rebounds, while Connor Hart had 12 points, six rebounds and six assists and junior forward Jayson Kuhn scored 11 points. Junior forward Chandler Crans added nine points and seven rebounds for the Windjammers, who amassed a 35-24 advantage on the backboards.
Senior guard Spencer Hartsgrove led Nokomis with a game-high 19 points, while junior forward Andrew Cartwright had 13 points and six rebounds and senior guard Drew Wing contributed six points, seven rebounds and five assists.
“They’re pretty good, they create issues for you,” said coach Hart after his team’s second victory of the season over Nokomis. “They’ve got size, they can shoot the ball and they’ve got some quickness, but I thought we played pretty well tonight.
“We had a couple of defensive lapses but we rebounded better and our shot selection was better, and overall we shared the ball really well tonight. We played together and we played defense with some toughness.”
Connor Graffam made a layup on Camden Hills’ first possession of the game and Kuhn followed with a pair of 3-pointers from the left corner to stake the Windjammers to a near-instant eight-point lead, and Nokomis was left to play catch-up the rest of the way.
“That was big because we’ve been down early the last few games,” said coach Hart of his team’s fast start, “especially in these preliminary games because it helps you relax a little bit and it got us into a flow.”
Camden Hills made 4 of 6 shots from beyond the 3-point arc in building an 18-8 lead by the end of the first quarter, and the Windjammers led by as many as 13 points during the second quarter before late baskets by Chandler Foss and Wing drew Nokomis within 30-21 at intermission.
Camden Hills again stretched out its lead to as many as 12 points during the third quarter, the final time at 39-27 when Morse scored off an inbounding pass from Hart with 2:47 left in the period.
But Nokomis had one more comeback left, with a follow-up basket and a 3-pointer by Hartsgrove and a drive by Cartwright helping coach Carl Parker’s club pull to within 40-34 less than a minute into the fourth quarter.
But Camden Hills quickly regrouped, scoring 10 unanswered points within 92 seconds to put the game away.
The Windjammers initially worked the ball inside to Hart for a close-range shot that quieted the Nokomis momentum.
Terron Bailey followed with a 3-pointer and Hart scored again on a drive to prompt a Nokomis timeout with 5:55 remaining. Morse then came out of the break with a 3-pointer from the right corner to cap off the run and give Camden Hills a 50-34 cushion with 5:30 left.
“We never got over any of the hump points,” said Parker. “You have to be able to execute at this time of the year, and we didn’t.”