Old Town boys basketball team battles past Ellsworth for eighth win

Posted Jan. 15, 2014, at 9:54 p.m.
Last modified Jan. 15, 2014, at 10:31 p.m.

ELLSWORTH, Maine — Eric Hoogterp’s jump shot wasn’t falling consistently Wednesday night.

But the junior guard used the threat of his long-range game to his teammates’ advantage, delivering several key assists midway through the second half to help Old Town outlast Ellsworth 52-49 in a Big East Conference Class B boys basketball game at Katsiaficas Gymnasium.

The win improved the Coyotes to 8-4 on the season and avenged a 63-56 loss to Ellsworth at Old Town on Dec. 17.

Ellsworth (5-5), which led for nearly all of a first half that ended in a 25-25 stalemate, moved back out to a 34-29 lead midway through the third quarter. Sophomore Nick Bagley scored four points and senior Steven Mahon added a 3-pointer to fuel that early surge.

But a commitment to 3-point defense by the Coyotes held Ellsworth scoreless for a stretch of more than 3½ minutes while Hoogterp sparked a decisive 9-0 Old Town run offensively.

First he scored from long range, a 3-pointer off a feed from Garvey Melmed. Then he fed junior center Adam Richardson twice inside for layups — the second one beating the third-quarter buzzer to give the Coyotes a 36-34 lead.

And when Ellsworth came up empty on its first possession of the final period, Hoogterp grabbed the defensive rebound and made a long outlet pass to Tyler Gifford for a fast-break layup that gave Old Town a four-point edge.

“If my shots aren’t falling I try to drive to the basket and get my teammates involved,” said Hoogterp. “Usually I know what to do with the ball and how to run the offense, but if I keep hitting shots then I’ll do that.”

Ellsworth was left to play catch-up the rest of the way as Old Town twice built a lead of as many as seven points, the last time at 50-43 on two Melmed free throws with 1:12 left.

Ellsworth crept within 50-47 on a 3-pointer by Bagley with 44.6 seconds remaining and within 51-49 on a follow-up basket by Mahon with 11.9 seconds to play. But Old Town’s Kaleb Gifford hit 1 of 2 from the free-throw line to make it a three-point game with 10.5 seconds to play before a contested 3-pointer by Mahon failed to connect and Melmed grabbed the rebound as time expired.

Richardson led Old Town with 17 points on 7-of-9 shooting from the field, while Hoogterp contributed 13 points and five assists and Melmed added 10 points, 10 rebounds and five assists.

Bagley led Ellsworth with a game-high 21 points, including four 3-pointers — three in the first half — and 5 of 6 shooting from the line.

But while the Eagles connected on four 3-pointers before intermission to account for nearly half of their offense, they managed to make just 1 of 8 attempts from long range after the break.

“We noticed that Mahon wasn’t making his shots and Bagley was, so we tried to get out on him more and stop their 3-point game a little bit,” said Melmed. “It helped us out a lot once we slowed down their 3-point game because they played a lot of guards and once they got it inside we had the better matchups on defense.”

Bagley also contributed eight rebounds for Ellsworth, while sophomore center Bruce St. Peter scored 11 points and Mahon finished with eight points and six rebounds.

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