BANGOR, Maine — Kyle Bouchard was aware of the potential pitfalls facing a No. 1 seed at the Eastern Maine high school basketball tournament after seeing defending Class D state champion Jonesport-Beals ousted in its tourney debut Monday night.
The 6-foot-5-inch sophomore refused to let that happen to his team Tuesday afternoon, scoring 41 points and grabbing 15 rebounds as top-ranked Houlton defeated No. 8 Bucksport 72-53 in an Eastern C boys quarterfinal at the Bangor Auditorium.
“It feels like a win,” said Bouchard, who also led his team to the EM final as a freshman in 2012. “It feels like a chance to keep pursuing a gold ball. It feels good.”
Houlton (18-1) will face No. 5 Calais (15-4) in Friday’s semifinals. Calais ousted No. 4 Sumner of East Sullivan 50-35 in Tuesday afternoon’s first game.
Bouchard — who battled wrist and back issues during the two weeks leading up to the tournament — made his first five shots from the field as coach Rob Moran’s club used a 30-4 run to build a 34-8 lead midway through the second quarter.
“I was just trying to take what the defense gave me,” said Bouchard, who hit two 3-pointers during that early blitz. “I tried to attack early and take good shots that I thought I could make.”
Bouchard finished the first half with 22 points and eight rebounds as the Shiretowners took a 45-18 lead into the break.
Bouchard made 17 of 27 shots from the field overall, and also had five blocked shots and four assists.
“He’s a great player, he’s one of the best players in the state,” said Moran. “He’s a great leader, and he makes a huge difference having him on the floor. He usually defends the other team’s best player, and we put him wherever we need to to get the most out of him.”
Kole Buzzeo added 11 points for Houlton.
“We shot it well, we ran our offense well, and defensively in the first half we were real good,” said Moran.
Josh Gray led 9-11 Bucksport with 16 points, while Mitchell Burgess and Sam Stearns added nine points each.
In the earlier game, senior guard Devin Hall scored 24 points as Calais subdued Sumner.
Sophomore guard Kyle Johnson added 11 points and seven rebounds for Calais, while sophomore center Tyler Niles had seven points and 11 rebounds.
The Blue Devils used a 2-2-1 trapping zone defense to force 20 Sumner turnovers and limit the Tigers to 28 percent (11 of 40) shooting from the field.
“We came out in our halfcourt trap defense and they didn’t like that because they run the flex and they look to ro run flex against the man to man,” said Hall. “We came out strong tonight and played real good defense.”
Sophomore forward Sam Smith led Sumner with 11 points and nine rebounds, while senior forward Tylor Martin scored nine points.
These teams split two regular-season games with a total point differential of one point, and the first half suggested no less a competitive matchup as Calais held a 23-20 lead at the break.
Sumner (12-7) jumped out to a 4-0 lead, but Calais got the ball inside to Niles twice for baskets to spark a 10-3 run that gave the Blue Devils a 17-12 edge on a fast-break layup by Hall with 5:40 left in the first half.
Calais maintained a five-point cushion for most of the rest of the second quarter until Sumner’s Sam Smith made an off-balance 15-footer as time expired after grabbing the rebound of his own missed free throw.
Johnson started quickly for Calais in the third quarter, making a three-point play off a steal and a 3-point shot from the right wing to fuel a 9-2 run that gave the Blue Devils their first double-digit lead at 32-22 with 5:36 left in the third quarter.
“Kyle was ready to go,” said Leeman. “Kyle’s got to be an offensive threat for us. If he’s an offensive threat, even if the shots aren’t going in he’s keeping the defense honest and making the defense look on the other side of the floor rather than just watching Devin all the time.”
Sumner was left to play catch-up the rest of the way but was unable to get closer than five points at 38-33 on a Tristan Rayner free throw a minute into the final period.
Calais answered with eight straight points, including two fast-break layups by Nathan Newell and a steal and layup and two free throws by Hall, to push its lead back to 44-33 with 4:40 remaining.