BANGOR, Maine — Medomak Valley’s poise under pressure Saturday morning was the difference in the Panthers’ 46-42 Eastern Maine Class B boys basketball quarterfinal victory over Presque Isle at the Bangor Auditorium.
“We’re in a tough conference and every game is a nail-biter,” said Medomak coach Nick DePatsy. “Our poise has been really good, basically, because our kids all get along.”
Fifth-seeded Medomak Valley built a 13-point lead, then held off a furious, fourth-quarter charge by No. 4 Presque Isle. The Panthers (15-4) advance to Wednesday’s 3:35 p.m. semifinal against No. 1 Camden Hills, a 54-39 winner over No. 9 Mount Desert Island.
In the morning session, Medomak Valley built a lead with aggressive man-to-man defense, patient offense and tough offensive rebounding. The Panthers scored the first four points of the fourth quarter to extend their lead to 40-27.
Presque Isle (17-2) rallied with a 10-0 run. It began when Oliver Zubrick scored an uncontested layup after an official put the ball in play with the Panthers emerging late from their timeout.
An intentional foul after a Dillon Kingsbury steal led to a Nate Ackerson foul shot, then Travis Dyer cashed in back-to-back Medomak turnovers with a foul-line jumper and a baseline layup to get PI within six with 2:30 left.
An Ackerson steal then led to three Dyer free throws after he was fouled on a 3-point attempt, and PI was within three at 42-39 with 1:34 to play.
“We just tried to keep our heads high and keep our composure,” said Medomak senior Alex MacKenzie, who led Medomak Valley with a game-high 15 points and eight rebounds.
The Panthers, who went scoreless for more than five minutes in the quarter, failed to convert the front end of a bonus on their next possession, giving the Wildcats a chance to tie it.
However, Dyer missed a 3-pointer with 42 seconds to play and Isaac Greenrose and John Bartlett hit two foul shots each in the last 25 seconds to keep the Panthers on top.
“They took care of the basketball a little better than we did and they shot the ball a little better than we did,” said PI coach Tim Prescott, whose team committed 17 turnovers.
Daniel Aubel added eight second-half points and six rebounds, while Greenrose scored his seven points after halftime for the Panthers, who outrebounded the Wildcats 37-21, including 15 offensive boards.
Dyer led Presque Isle with 14 points and Keenan Eaton tallied 11.
In the afternoon game, Camden Hills harassed MDI with relentless full-court pressure in securing the victory.
The Windjammers (17-2) hounded the Trojans into 31 turnovers and scored 21 points as a result of those miscues.
“We work on conditioning a lot at the beginning of the year because our defense is probably our best offense,” said senior guard James Weferling, one of the catalysts in the press.
Coach Jeff Hart’s Camden Hills squad made the Trojans work hard to get the ball up the court on every possession, although Camden Hills did get itself into some foul trouble along the way.
The Windjammers weren’t able to stretch their lead until the third quarter. Joel Gabriele scored four points during an extended 9-2 run that gave Camden Hills a 33-21 lead with 1:59 left in the third quarter.
MDI (11-8) kept battling, and used its own scrappy defense and rebounding to hang tough against the taller ’Jammers.
Camden Hills finally was able to put the game away in the last 3:49.
“I thought we rattled them and that’s why I was disappointed,” Hart said. “I thought if we could have done it without fouling, then we could have maybe gotten some transition game going and that’s when we’re at our best.”
Six-foot-6 Tyler McFarland sparked the Windjammers with 14 points and 14 rebounds. Keegan Pieri provided 11 points and seven rebounds, while Gabrielle finished with 10 points. Weferling added six points, seven rebounds and three steals.
Camden Hills outrebounded MDI 38-33.
Caleb MacDonald led the Trojans with 10 points, eight of which came from the foul line. Ben Walls added nine points and Nate Chisholm added seven points and five rebounds.
MDI managed only nine field goals in the contest, but went 21-for-33 from the foul line.