BANGOR, Maine — Looking for a dark horse to make a competitive run through the Eastern Maine Class B boys basketball ranks this winter?
The Old Town Coyotes might not be a bad choice.
Coach Brian McDormand’s club showed plenty of signs that it has some ingredients essential for long-term success during its 61-37 victory over John Bapst at the Cross Insurance Center on Thursday evening.
Five different players scored at least eight points, with that offense featuring a balance of inside might, perimeter shooting and transition play fueled by defensive pressure.
Five Coyotes also came up with at least five rebounds against a John Bapst club that couldn’t match up physically with Old Town near the basket.
“It’s definitely one of the more balanced teams I’ve been on,” said senior guard Garvey Melmed, who contributed eight points and a game-high eight rebounds to the victory. “I really like what we’re doing right now and that wasn’t even our best performance by far.”
This is a different-looking Old Town club from those of recent vintage, with 2013 Bangor Daily News All-Maine guard Garrett Libby, a two-time Big East Conference player of the year, now a freshman at Maine Maritime Academy.
But returning players like Melmed, senior center Zack Bartlett and junior forward Adam Richardson have been joined by a pair of transfers in junior guard Eric Hoogterp and senior forward Nick Cowan and a bench filled with young talent to give Old Town considerable depth.
“The last two years we had Garrett and we relied on him a lot for good reason, he did the job,” said McDormand, whose team bounced back from a 51-45 season-opening loss at Mount Desert Island last Saturday.
“This year we’re looking to go down inside with it, work inside out, and we’re really balanced. We don’t have anybody that looks like they’ll have a Garrett-type night, but we share the ball well.”
John Bapst (0-2) hung around early, building a 10-6 lead on early 3-pointers by Cody Lyons and Riley Tapley.
But follow-up baskets by Richardson and junior forward Mitchell Cole tied the game by the end of the period, and once Old Town switched from a half-court trap defense to full-court pressure, the Coyotes were able to accelerate the pace of the game to their favor.
After Colby Kohn drove for a three-point play to gave John Bapst a 15-13 lead two minutes into the second quarter, Old Town outscored the Crusaders 16-5 to take a 29-20 halftime lead.
“We changed up our press a little bit, and the second press definitely worked a lot better,” said Melmed. “We got some fast breaks, and our game is definitely the running game. We just got in a groove.”
Cowan helped get Old Town off to a quick start after the break, driving for one basket and scoring again after grabbing an offensive rebound as part of an 8-1 run that built the lead to 37-21.
Cole later added three athletic baskets — a steal and layup, an alley-oop off an inbounds pass and a second alley-oop off a longer pass by Hoogterp — during a run of eight unanswered points that stretched the Old Town lead to 48-27 by the final seconds of the third period.
Cowan finished with 12 points and five rebounds, while Hoogterp added 11 points, Richardson had 10 points and five rebounds and Cole finished with eight points.
Lyons hit four 3-pointers to score a team-high 12 points for John Bapst, while Kohn scored 10 points and Tapley added eight.
“Tonight we kind of put it together a little bit more,” said Bartlett, “and next game we’ll put it together even more. We’re still growing, but we’re starting to grow together now, which is what we need to do.”