BANGOR, Maine — Until this week, the Old Town boys basketball team had not won a postseason game since 2001, when the school’s nickname was the Indians and it was a member in good standing of Eastern Maine Class A.
But the Coyotes have ended that 13-year drought in impressive fashion, first eliminating Waterville in a Class B preliminary-round contest on Wednesday and then earning a 57-44 quarterfinal victory over Mount Desert Island on Friday night in the first tournament game to be played at the Cross Insurance Center.
The win advances sixth-seed Old Town (15-5) to a semifinal matchup Wednesday against No. 10 Ellsworth, a 71-62 winner over No. 2 Camden Hills of Rockport.
“I guess we made history tonight,” said Old Town coach Brian McDormand. “I’m proud of these guys. We’re playing our best ball at the end of the year.”
The victory was also the first in nine tries for the sixth-ranked Coyotes over MDI since McDormand took over as head coach four years ago, including two regular-season losses this winter.
Old Town outrebounded third-ranked MDI 37-25 while limiting Trojans’ standouts Jon Phelps and Andrew Davis to a combined 9-of-25 shooting from the field.
“Two of our three keys tonight were defense and rebounding, and I think we definitely did a good job of that,” said senior guard Garvey Melmed, a four-year varsity player for the Coyotes.
Junior guard Eric Hoogterp led Old Town with 17 points and 10 rebounds, while Melmed had 11 points and three assists, Zack Bartlett finished with nine points and six rebounds and Adam Richardson contributed seven points, nine rebounds and three blocks.
Davis, who was hindered by foul trouble in the second half, led MDI with 13 points and seven rebounds, while Phelps scored 11 points, freshman Riley Swanson added 10 and Stephen Hanscome had eight points and eight rebounds.
“We kind of shut down Phelps, and that was our focus,” said McDormand. “Garvey had a lot to do with that. One time one of the coaches said he needed a rest and I said, ‘No, Garvey’s not coming out.’”
MDI, which finished with a 14-5 record after advancing to the Eastern B championship game each of the previous two seasons, rallied from a 13-point first-quarter deficit to forge a 34-34 tie on a three-point play by Davis with 2:55 left in the third quarter.
But Old Town reasserted itself inside, with follow-up baskets by Mitchell Cole and Melmed sparking a 14-2 run good for a 48-36 cushion after a drive and two free throws by Hoogterp midway through the final period.
MDI crept within 50-42 on three free throws by Swanson with 2:03 left, but Hoogterp and Tyler Gifford combined to score Old Town’s final seven points from the line to thwart any further comeback hopes.
“It’s pretty awesome,” said Melmed. “We were happy to get here, and now we’re even more pumped that we got past the first round.”