HERMON — The Washington Academy boys basketball team flirted with disaster Wednesday night as it watched a 16-point third-quarter lead evaporate in less than six minutes.
But the Raiders regrouped to outlast Hermon 62-60 in their first-ever Class B boys basketball matchup.
The win was the first as a Class B program for Washington Academy of East Machias since being reclassified by enrollment from Class C during the offseason.
Senior point guard Tyler Varney led the 1-1 Raiders with 13 points, while classmates Nick Pineo and Drew Sansing each scored 12 points.
Pineo worked effectively near the basket to score all of his points in the first half while helping the Raiders move out to a 32-19 lead, but he was saddled by foul trouble after intermission and never managed another field-goal attempt.
Sansing had perhaps his team’s two biggest baskets, the first with three seconds left in the third quarter, followed by a layup to open the final period that restored his team to the lead — for good, as it turned out.
“Drew’s one of our senior leaders, and he stepped up big,” said WA coach Steve Pineo. “He had some big shots down the stretch, he dished the ball well and hit some key foul shots. Drew had some huge minutes for us tonight.”
Varney followed Sansing’s go-ahead basket with the second of his three 3-pointers for the game to give WA a 47-43 lead, and while the Raiders never led by more than four points the rest of the way they were able to hold off Hermon. Junior guard Jacob Schoppee made three baskets in the period to go with his team’s 7-of-8 effort from the free-throw line over the final 5:09.
Hermon (0-2) crept within 59-57 on two free throws by Jacob Rioux with 1:08 left in the game, then made it a one-point game when Tyler Thayer made 1 of 2 from the line after being fouled while outbattling two WA players for a rebound.
Aaron Huffman’s two free throws with 23.2 seconds left restored the Raiders to a 61-58 lead. Hermon’s Braddock Deabay had a good look from 3-point land in a bid to tie the game, but the ball bounced off the rim and Huffman rebounded, setting up a Sansing free throw that gave WA a two-possession lead with 7.6 seconds to play.
“In the second half we really lost our momentum, but a few of our seniors picked the team up,” Sansing said. “We wanted to get the ball underneath because we were taller than they were, and we were able to get some easier shots and get back into the game by pounding it down low.”
Deabay finished with a game-high 16 points, with 15 of his points coming after intermission. Fritz Marseille added 14 points for Hermon, including a 10-of-12 performance from the free-throw line, while Rioux and Thayer each scored 11 points.
WA scored the final five points of the first half to take its 13-point lead at the break, then gained its largest lead at 35-19 as Varney hit a 3-pointer 13 seconds into the third quarter.
But as several Raiders began falling victim to foul trouble, Hermon battled back as Deabay scored 10 points in the period, including a pair of 3-pointers.
The Hawks went on a 22-3 run, finally taking a 39-38 lead on two free throws by Rioux with 2:00 left in the period and extending that margin to 41-38 on a steal and drive by Deabay.
“We talked at halftime about finishing a quarter and how we let it get from being seven down with the ball and the possibility of being five down to being down 13 at the half,” said Hermon coach Mark Reed. “That’s something we have to address, we need to work at being stronger mentally, and I thought we came out in the second half and did that.
“We set a goal to cut it to six by the end of the third, and we surpassed that goal. I thought the kids worked hard and showed good composure. There were a couple of possessions we’d like to have back, of course, but I was proud of them.”