HERMON, Maine — While they weren’t quite as cold as the bone-chilling temperatures that gripped most of Maine, the Old Town Coyotes admittedly struggled with their shooting accuracy Thursday night.
But coach Brian McDormand’s club used solid team defense and control of the backboards to overcome any offensive frustrations en route to a 53-38 Class B boys basketball victory over Hermon.
The win improves Old Town to 5-3 heading into a pointworthy Big East Conference clash at home Saturday against 6-1 Caribou, which fell from the unbeaten ranks Thursday with a 49-47 loss to undefeated Class C top seed Houlton.
Hermon dips to 3-3.
“We rebounded well,” said McDormand, whose team shot just 31 percent (18 of 58) from the field but bested Hermon 46-30 in their battle on the glass. “But I think we missed a lot of open shots inside so our guys were frustrated that they left a lot of points out on the court that would have helped us tonight.”
Guard Eric Hoogterp, who played for Hermon until transferring for his senior year to Old Town, where his father serves as athletic administrator, led Old Town with 16 points. Sixth man Mitchell Cole added 10 points, while senior forward Nick Cowan grabbed a team-high 10 rebounds and senior guard Garvey Melmed had nine boards.
Old Town outrebounded the smaller Hawks 27-12 over the final two periods after Hermon had clung within three points at intermission.
Key to the Coyotes’ defensive effort was a three-quarter court press and diamond-and-one halfcourt set focused on star Hermon guard Tyler Thayer.
The 5-foot-10-inch senior scored a game-high 23 points — including an 11-for-11 effort from the free-throw line — but he added just three assists as Old Town tried to prevent Thayer from setting up teammates for high-percentage shots.
Hermon shot just 28 percent (12 of 44) from the field for the game.
“We were trying to keep Tyler out of the lane because he’s tough in the lane when he gets angles to pass,” McDormand said. “But we had him kicking the ball back out on the perimeter for the most part where it didn’t hurt us as much.”
Thayer scored 10 first-half points as Hermon held within 26-23 at the break, but Old Town’s defense held Hermon without a field goal during the third quarter, outscoring the Hawks 13-2 to build a 39-25 lead.
“We played diamond-and-one and started with our halfcourt trap,” said McDormand, “but instead of keeping trapping as soon as Tyler gave up the ball, we tried to deny him the ball back in our diamond and one.”
Hermon crept within 40-30 when Thayer converted a three-point play off a left-handed drive 90 seconds into the fourth quarter, but Hoogterp scored Old Town’s next 10 points in a variety of fashions — a backdoor layup, two free throws, two low-post moves and a runner from the lane — to stretch the Coyotes’ advantage to 50-34 with less than three minutes remaining.
Ryan Kelly grabbed a game-high 11 rebounds for Hermon.
Old Town (5-3)
Coulombe, K. Gifford, Melmed 1-10 2-2 5, T. Gifford 1-6 1-2 3, Hoogterp 6-16 4-5 16, Cowan 1-5 2-2 4, Libby, Cole 4-7 2-4 10, Richardson 2-9 3-5 7, Smart 1-3 0-0 3, Bartlett 2-2 1-2 5. Totals: 18-58 15-22 53.
Verrill 1-4 0-0 2, Hawes 0-2 0-0 0, Bennett 0-2 0-0 0, Beaton 1-1 0-0 3, Thayer 6-16 11-11 23, Kelly 1-9 1-2 3, Plummer, Hieftje 2-7 0-2 4, Feeney 1-2 1-2 3, Putnam 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 12-44 13-17 38
Old Town 16-26-39-53
3-point goals: Old Town 2-11 (Smart 1-1, Melmed 1-3, T. Gifford 0-3, Hoogterp 0-4); Hermon 1-4 (Beaton 1-1, Verrill 0-1, Hawes 0-2)
JV: Old Town 60-54