May 27, 2018
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Early surge propels Mattanawcook Academy boys basketball team past Orono

By Ernie Clark, BDN Staff

LINCOLN — Contrasting styles of play can make for dramatically contrasting results among rival boys basketball teams, even when they meet twice within a relatively short time span.

Mattanawcook Academy, held to a season-low 38 points in a two-point loss at Orono on Dec. 12, erupted for 45 points in the first half alone in the rematch Friday night and cruised to a 66-51 Penobscot Valley Conference victory over the Red Riots.

“Orono wants to win games in the 40s, and MA wants to win the game with 60-plus,” said Mattanawcook coach Ryan Libby. “We knew that going in, and we talked about how we had to get up and down the floor and to keep challenging them and keep attacking.

“We didn’t want to let them set up in a zone, because on a given night a zone can bother anybody, but we got going basically because we scored in transition. They didn’t handle our pressure very well and we got some steals and got off to a good start.”

Good start was an understatement on Libby’s part, as the Lynx scored 24 unanswered points during one stretch of the first half as part of an overall 32-1 blitz that gave them a 34-4 lead and removed all doubt about the outcome of this clash of Eastern Maine Class C contenders.

Senior guard Chase Vicaire led Mattanawcook offensively with a game-high 23 points, while backcourt mate Matt Voisine added 18 points and senior forward Nick L’Italien contributed 14 points and 10 rebounds as the Lynx — back in Class C after a recent stint in Class B — secured the sixth win in their last seven games and improved their overall record to 6-3.

“They work extremely hard, and it shows defensively,” said Libby. “That’s one of the things we’ve been preaching, to play as hard as you can every minute and every possession, and our defense has led us. We’ve scored 70 points several times because we’ve shot well, but our defense has allowed us to get easy hoops in transition and not have to rely on outside shooting.”

Orono led 3-2 on a Jack Lucy free throw three minutes into the game, but the Red Riots

went scoreless for the next six minutes and didn’t manage their second field goal of

the contest until Cortland Loring’s jumper with 5:23 left in the first half.

In the meantime, Mattanawcook used fullcourt defensive pressure to force 10 Orono turnovers during the first quarter, and that helped ignite the 24-0 run that was capped off by a Nick Haynes layup 20 seconds into the second period to give the Lynx a 26-3 lead.

“They came out and hit their first couple shots and really pushed the tempo, and we never got into it until it was too late,” said Orono coach Jason Coleman. “Some key blockouts turned into three-point plays, and defensive stops turned into five-point swings very quickly. They had two or three runs in a row, and we couldn’t finish.”

After Corey Riemersma finally ended Orono’s scoring drought with a free throw, MA ran off eight more points to extend its lead to 30 points on a jumper by Vicaire with six minutes left in the half.

The Lynx lead was 45-18 at intermission, with Vicaire scoring 15 points, Voisine 12 and L’Italien

adding nine points and seven rebounds.

“We executed our game plan right at the start very well,” said Libby. “We challenged them for 84 feet. I knew coming in that they didn’t have a premier true point guard, and when a team doesn’t have that you can put the pressure on them, and that helped fuel us.”

Mattanawcook was unable to maintain its intensity in the second half and Orono endeavored to scratch its way back toward contention, drawing within 57-36 by the end of the third quarter and as close as 13 points in the final minute of play.

Tyler Eddy led Orono with 15 points, all in the second half, to go with nine rebounds, while Ethan Hall scored eight points, Loring had seven points and four blocked shots and Riemersma also scored seven points.

Orono, which won just two games last year, had its five-game winning streak ended but still sports a 6-2 record.

“I was pleased with our second-half effort,” said Coleman, the Red Riots’ first-year head coach. “The kids played hard the whole way, we ran the floor better and finished in the paint and made some shots in the second half, but we’re a work in progress.”

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