AUGUSTA, Maine — For a generation, the citizens of Jonesport and
Beals Island had been unable to raise in celebration the gold ball that goes along with winning a state Class D boys basketball championship.
That streak came to an emphatic end Saturday afternoon when Matt Alley’s 26 points led Jonesport-Beals to an 83-45 victory over Forest Hills of Jackman at the Augusta Civic Center. It’s the Royals’ first state crown since 1993.
“The natives were restless,” said a smiling Alley afterward. “This is unbelievable. It’s long overdue.”
Coach Gordon Faulkingham, who played on four state title teams in the early ’70s, was just as pleased to see his team achieve its objective.
“These players had a lot of expectations placed on ’em,” said the first-year J-B coach. “This time they decided to do it. I’m proud of ’em.”
Forest Hills coach Anthony Amero knew his Tigers would have their hands full.
“They’re bigger, faster and stronger than us, and they keep coming at you,” Amero said.
Alley, a senior guard, also surpassed the 1,000-point mark during the game. He needed 12 and passed that on a pull-up jumper at the top of the lane 1:16 into the second half.
“That Alley kid, what a performance,” said Amero. “He’s just money.”
Alley might have reached the milestone late in the second quarter, but he passed up two good chances in order to pass to teammates for easier baskets.
“Reaching 1,000 points, especially today, was the very least of my concerns,” said Alley. “I would gladly sacrifice that for the bigger team goal.”
Faulkingham knew Alley felt that way. The coach didn’t even know Alley was close to 1,000 until he was asked about it near the end of the year.
“We talked about it, and he said, ‘I don’t care, I want the gold ball,’” said Faulkingham. “That’s how he played the whole Eastern Maine tournament, very unselfish.
“I think that’s why we jelled as a team and why we’re where we are today.”
Alley didn’t do it alone, though. Others also had a hand in the win for Jonesport-Beals, which finished its season 19-2.
Garet Beal, a 6-foot-5 junior center, posted 16 points for the Royals, including four 3-pointers. Sophomore guard Leon Smith and senior forward Justin Alley added 10 points each.
Evan Worster, a 6-3 junior forward, led the Tigers with 16 points, and freshman guard Brandon Ouellette had 10.
Forest Hills (18-4) grabbed a 6-2 lead in the first three minutes, on a Derick Ouellette basket and two by Worster against a Justin Alley field goal.
“We felt good off the get-go,” said Amero.
But a two-point field goal by Beal followed by his first 3-pointer kicked off an 11-0 run that put the Royals up 13-6.
The Tigers couldn’t catch them after that.
Amero’s other goal was to get Beal in early foul trouble, which they did.
“When Garet Beal got his third foul, I thought we may be in for a fight,” said Faulkingham, but the Royals had too much firepower.
“We just haven’t seen that kind of length and speed,” said Amero. “It was a learning experience.”
Despite being up 32-18 at halftime, Jonesport-Beals took no chances, since Forest Hills had rallied from 15 down to beat Hyde of Bath in the WM final.
“At halftime, I told them we had to get more pressure, to push the ball more and crash the boards,” said Faulkingham.
The Royals started emphasizing their half-court trap defense, and the Tigers struggled against it.
“That was the best trap defense we’ve seen all year,” said Worster. “It was impossible to dribble through.”
That took Forest Hills out of its offensive rhythm.
“We didn’t have a chance to settle and pound it into the paint,” said Worster. “Every time down they got two or three looks to our one.”
Faulkingham wanted to clamp down on Worster as much as possible, too.
The Royals kicked off the second half with a 9-2 run, and the young Tigers (four freshmen, no seniors) were unable to mount any more challenges.
Jonesport-Beals pushed the lead to 58-35 after three quarters and cruised home in the fourth.
“They’re a good team, well coached,” said Amero. “They’re what a team should be.”
It was an experience that Alley was happy to add to the lore of Jonesport-Beals basketball.
“To be mentioned in the same group as the Carvers, Dwight Peabody, my father [Skipper Alley] and grandfather [legendary coach Ordie Alley],” said Matt Alley, “it’s unbelievable to be in that group now.”