PORTLAND – After an overtime thriller in their regular season matchup, expectations ran high for Saturday night’s Western Maine Class A quarterfinal game between No. 3 Bonny Eagle and No. 6 Scarborough.
The Scots won the early February clash 59-58 in overtime, but a mere 15 days later, the result would be a lopsided 48-32 victory for Bonny Eagle.
“Things could have gone similar, but bounces came our way a little bit more,” said Scots coach Phil Bourassa.
Standout guard Dustin Cole played a balanced game for the Scots (16-3), pouring in 22 points, while adding six rebounds and six assists. The junior faced tough pressure all night from the Red Storm (12-7) defense, which rotated three defenders to try to slow down the region’s leading scorer.
Bourassa prepared his star all season to face different defensive looks.
“We’re ready for just about everything with him, but nothing can faze the kid,” he said.
Bourassa praised Cole’s resolve on the offensive end.
“He’s tough, and he knows how to get open,” he said. “He knows how to come get the ball and I thought he played well enough for us to win tonight, but we’re going to need him to play better once we get further.”
Scarborough led 6-5 after a difficult first quarter, but Bonny Eagle used an 11-2 run spanning four minutes of the second quarter to open up a five-point lead.
Cole chalked up the slow start to the tournament stage.
“I think it was mostly because of nerves; everyone was just anxious to play the game,” he said.
Scarborough senior Kevin Manning stemmed the tide with a 3-pointer, and senior guard John Wheeler cut the lead to one with a free throw. The Red Storm would not get any closer, as Cole went on a personal 5-0 run. A Wheeler field goal with 40 seconds remaining made it 23-19 Scots at halftime.
Cole continued his onslaught in the second half, scoring his team’s first four points on a field goal and two technical foul free throws. Wheeler answered with a 3-pointer, but Cole then began feeding his teammates, finding Ben Malloy and C.J. Autry for consecutive three-point shots. After an old-fashioned three-point play from Scarborough’s Brendan Hall to end the third period, Cole zipped the ball to Zach Dubiel for two more threes, and the Scots led 39-25 with six minutes to play.
“Those were probably some of the best minutes Zach Dubiel has played,” said Bourassa. “He was the difference-maker for us.”
After a Scarborough timeout, the Red Storm answered with a Hall field goal, but Cole hit both ends of a one and one to make it 41-27 with less than five minutes to play. A Sam Terry three cut the lead to 11, but Bonny Eagle broke the Red Storm press, picking up two points on Malloy foul shots. Scarborough coach Tony DiBiase then dialed up a half-court trap, forcing Bourassa to call a timeout.
The Scots came off the breather and cut nearly 30 seconds off the clock before Malloy found a wide-open Jonathan Thomas for the lay-in. Cole then finished the job, hitting three of four from the foul line in the last two minutes to seal it.
DiBiase cited tough defense and an off shooting night as the reason for his team’s demise.
“Give credit to Bonny Eagle’s defense. I thought they played very well defensively,” he said. “But in the second half, I thought we had some good looks, and we just didn’t knock down shots like we normally can.”
The Red Storm managed only half of its season average 64 points.
Bonny Eagle will play No. 7 Thornton Academy (13-7), which upset defending state champion Deering 49-40 in overtime, in the Western Maine semifinal at 6 p.m. Wednesday at the Cumberland County Civic Center. Bonny Eagle downed the Golden Trojans 62-29 in December, but Bourassa expects a hard-fought matchup in the semifinal.
“I have great respect for coach Davies, and I think Wednesday night will be a battle,” he said.