BANGOR, Maine — Southern Aroostook did everything in its power Saturday night to slow down Fort Fairfield center John McNamee.
Ultimately, the Tigers’ 6-foot-5 senior was took much for the Warriors to handle.
McNamee scored nine points and pulled down nine rebounds in the pivotal fourth quarter to lift third-seeded Fort Fairfield to a 67-61 Eastern Maine Class D boys basketball quarterfinal victory over No. 6 Southern Aroostook at the Bangor Auditorium.
McNamee finished with game highs of 30 points and 18 rebounds to propel coach Todd Alley’s 17-2 Tigers into Thursday’s 2:05 p.m. semifinal against the winner of Saturday’s late game between No. 2 Central Aroostook of Mars Hill and No. 7 Shead of Eastport.
The Warriors (13-5) played a sagging 2-3 zone and double- and triple-teams on McNamee throughout, but they fell victim to their overall lack of height and significant foul trouble. McNamee went 11-for-15 from the field.
Fort Fairfield also emerged with a commanding 50-33 rebounding advantage.
Behind the flashy play of senior guard Dakota Sleeper, Southern Aroostook led by as many as 12 points late in the first half. Sleeper connected for 22 of his 30 points in the first half.
However, the Tigers put together a 14-5 scoring run to end the third quarter, then eventually took the lead on back-to-back 3-pointers by Dereck Dufour and Travis Noyes. Fort Fairfield grabbed a 57-54 advantage and never trailed after that.
Noyes overcame a significant ankle injury to contribute 17 points and seven rebounds for the Tigers, while Joshua Booth added eight points and five rebounds.
Sleeper’s effort was complemented by 10 points and seven rebounds from Anthony Diaferio and 10 points from Travis Casey.