Absent from the Eastern Maine High School Basketball Tournament since 2001, the Old Town Coyotes surprised many tourney fans by capturing the 2014 Eastern Maine Class B boys’ crown. The victory was Old Town’s first tournament sweep since 1991, when the school played in Class A.
Among the people not surprised by the Coyotes’ performance was Coach Brian McDormand, who just wrapped up his fourth season with the team.
When he spoke briefly about the Old Town team during an early week Class D boys’ game, the Coyotes had not yet defeated Ellsworth and Caribou in the respective semifinal and final games, both nail-biters, to say the least. Sixth-seeded Old Town had beaten a tough third-seeded MDI squad, 57-44, during the tournament’s opening game on Valentine’s Day. McDormand had seen how well the Coyotes played in their new tourney environs at the Cross Insurance Center; he was pleased with their performance.
“Winning on Feb. 14 was special, it being the first victory for anybody here in the tournament,” he said. “My guys have been peaking at this time of year. We play a pretty solid man-to-man defense,” aided substantially by the overall team height that Old Town brought to the Arena.
Among the Old Town starters, junior guard Eric Hoogterp stands 6-2, and senior guard Garvey Melmed stands 6-1. McDormand could turn to other tall talent, including his two centers: 6-3 senior Zack Bartlett and 6-4 junior Adam Richardson.
“We seem to have an advantage on rebounding,” McDormand said. “We have a good fast break, coming from all over; our guards are quick, and they can push it.”
The Coyotes had not “deviated much from our game plan” when facing MDI, McDormand said, and he anticipated adhering “to the game plan” for the semifinals.
As for his players, “they’re confident, but I’m sure they’re level-headed.”
The Coyotes went on to defeat Ellsworth 53-50 in the B semifinal and Caribou 43-41 in a Feb. 22 barn-burner that went into overtime. That victory set up the Feb. 28 state final against Poland, which had ranked No. 6 in Western Maine Class B.
Playing for a noisy hometown crowd, the Coyotes finished their dream run by handing Poland a 64-39 loss and capturing the Class B boys’ gold ball.