HERMON, Maine — The Hermon High School boys basketball team is tough enough for an opponent to stay close to at full strength — as evidenced by the Hawks’ victory margin of 23.4 points per game through the undefeated first half of their schedule this winter.
So when an eight-win Washington Academy team came to town minus two starters sidelined by the flu for a Martin Luther King Jr. Day matinee late Monday afternoon, it had little chance to pull off the upset.
Hermon countered the undermanned Raiders with enviable depth with eight different players scoring between six and 11 points as the Hawks pulled away in the second half for a 68-40 Big East Conference victory.
“We’re starting to hit our mark,” said senior guard Keenan Marseille, part of a 10-0 Hermon team that sits atop the Class B North standings and continues a challenging midseason stretch at fifth-seeded Oceanside of Rockland on Wednesday before hosting No. 2 and defending state champion Mount Desert Island of Bar Harbor on Saturday night.
“Coach (Mark Reed) told us in the locker room that it’s the time of the season when teams start to slow down because of the wear and tear, but as long as we do what we’re supposed to do as far as nutrition, getting sleep and keeping our grades up … Everybody’s doing well so far.”
Jacob Godfrey, the 6-foot-6-inch senior transfer who helped Machias win the Class D state championship last winter, posted team-high totals of 11 points, 14 rebounds and three blocks for Hermon, which also got 11 points from junior wing Garrett Trask and a versatile nine-point, 12-rebound, six-assist performance from junior guard Cody Hawes.
“Cody has had the ability all year long to really play the way he’s playing now,” said Reed. “I’m really happy for him because we’ve been really behind him trying to shove him in this direction. He’s capable of doing many things, he has good skills and he’s a calming presence on the floor for us at times.”
Hermon’s interior defense, led by Godfrey and sophomore forward Isaac Varney, limited Washington Academy’s ability to generate close-range shots and while guards Ching Jim Lin (15 points) and Kyle Case (11) were able to create some scoring chances off the dribble, the Raiders couldn’t keep pace after staying within 30-19 at intermission.
“They protect the paint so well and protect the rim so well that you almost have to have a great shooting night from the outside to hang around and give yourself a chance,” said WA coach Barry Terrill. “We have guys that are capable of doing that and were hoping to catch fire, and we made enough shots in the first half to hang around but we kind of ran out of steam.”
WA was within 22-16 midway through the second quarter, but Varney worked inside for a basket and scored again after grabbing an offensive rebound to highlight an 8-0 run that helped extend Hermon’s lead to 11 points at intermission.
A 3-pointer by Milan Filipovich kept the Raiders within 34-22 two minutes into the third quarter before Hermon scored 10 straight points — a 3-pointer and a fast-break layup off a WA turnover by Trask, a follow-up shot by Godfrey and a 3-pointer by Tyler Hawes — to build a 44-22 cushion by the final minute of the period.
“I thought we played pretty well,” said Cody Hawes. “We came out and played really good defense, made our shots when we needed to and we rebounded very well today and got a lot of second-chance points.”