June 24, 2018
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Walls free throws lift MDI to semifinal battle against Presque Isle

By Dave Barber and Larry Mahoney, BDN Staff

BANGOR, Maine — Ben Walls hit both ends of a one-and-one with 49.4 seconds remaining to lift top-ranked Mount Desert Island to a 59-58 victory over defending state champion Camden Hills in an Eastern Maine Class B quarterfinal contest Saturday afternoon at the Bangor Auditorium.

The fifth-seeded Presque Isle Wildcats proved Saturday morning that defense and rebounding can carry a team a long way. They avenged two regular-season losses to fourth-seeded Ellsworth by beating the Eagles 57-46.

The undefeated Trojans (19-0) of Bar Harbor will face Presque Isle in Wednesday’s 3:35 p.m. semifinal.

In the afternoon contest, MDI had led by 14 points before a 24-4 run by the No. 8 Windjammers (12-8) of Rockport gave them a six-point lead with 4:16 remaining.

MDI forward Jason Burke sandwiched two hoops around one by teammate and guard Caleb MacDonald that tied the game at 56-all with 2:17 left. The ’Jammers regained the lead by hitting two free throws to MDI’s one until Walls completed the scoring with his pair.

“He’s so clutch,” said MDI coach Justin Norwood. “He could have kicked them and they would have gone in.”

Walls, whose playing resume includes a trip to the AAU nationals, said he likes the adrenaline-fueled environment at the auditorium.

“The atmosphere makes me excited but not nervous like it does most people,” said the 6-foot-1 forward.

There was still plenty of time left for the Windjammers, but forward Colin Morse was called for a player control foul with 29.8 seconds left. The Trojans returned the favor as they were called for dribbling on the sideline four seconds later.

The ’Jammers ran down the clock as they played for the last shot, which Morse took from near the free-throw line with one second left. The ball bounced off the right rim and MDI center Adam Gray grabbed the rebound to preserve the win.

“From my angle, I thought it was going in and we were not going to win,” said Walls.

Walls and Burke finished with 14 points apiece for the Trojans, MacDonald posted 12, Gray had nine and guard Nick Shaw eight.

Walls, Burke and Gray on the front line accounted for 37 of MDI’s 59 points, mostly from inside.

“Points in the paint,” said Gray. “Coach says that’s where we make our money, and we took advantage.”

For the Windjammers, center Taylor Hall recorded a game-high 19 points, guard Adam Carlsen added 13 and guard Kyle Ohelnik had nine. Morse had seven.

In the early game, the Wildcats outrebounded Ellsworth 26-16 and turned in a clinical defensive performance, limiting the Eagles to 31.5 percent shooting from the floor.

Presque Isle received 20 points, eight rebounds and three assists from Andrew Kofstad and 17 points, 11 rebounds and four assists from Matt Eager.

The Eagles, with just one player over 6-foot-1, were at a distinct height disadvantage and had no answer for the 6-foot-3 Kofstad and 6-6 Eager.

“We knew team defense was something we had to put an emphasis on. We weren’t happy with how it was at the beginning of the year so we’ve been working on it and we did a pretty good job today,” said Kofstad. “We really wanted to stop their three-point attack and knock down our free throws.”

Ellsworth made just 6 of 23 3-pointers and PI went 18-for-30 from the free throw line, including 14-for-20 in the fourth quarter.

Kofstad was 4-for-8 on 3-pointers.

“The guards did a good job getting me some open looks,” said Kofstad.

Presque Isle outscored Ellsworth 9-3 in the second period to take a 22-17 halftime lead and rattled off a 10-2 run to open the second half as Kofstad hit a pair of threes and a layup and fed Eager for a base line layup.

The Eagles clawed to within 34-28, but Kofstad’s 3-pointer, Eager’s two free throws and Cole Richards’ layup re-established a 41-28 lead.

Six-foot-five Tyler Brooks had eight points for the 14-5 Wildcats while Ellsworth, which finished at 13-6, was led by Nick Holt’s 11 points, Steven Mahon’s 10 and eight apiece from Josh Bean and Thomas Sawyer. Kyle Haslam added seven points, three rebounds, three steals and three assists. Bean and Sawyer had four rebounds and three assists each.

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