OLD TOWN, Maine — Garrett Libby had a relatively quiet offense performance through the first three periods of Old Town’s return match against Ellsworth on Thursday evening.
But the trick to defeating the Coyotes usually has a lot to do with keeping the 6-foot-2-inch senior forward in check for the full four quarters — something few teams have been able to do so far this winter.
Ellsworth was the latest team to come up short in that regard, as Libby scored 14 of his game-high 24 points during the fourth quarter to lift Old Town to a 53-47 Class B boys basketball victory over the Eagles at MacKenzie Gymnasium.
The Coyotes’ second victory of the season over Ellsworth improved their record to 6-2, while the Eagles fell to 3-5.
“We were down for a while and I knew we needed to get some points going and generate some kind of momentum,” said Libby. “Sometimes I’m the go-to guy for that and I felt I needed to get open and get something going and it worked out.”
Ellsworth took a 36-32 lead into the final quarter, but Libby scored seven points in the first 58 seconds of the period — on a runner from the lane, a long 3-pointer from the left wing and a layup after a steal — to give Old Town a 39-36 edge with 7:02 remaining.
“I think I just came out attacking the hoop a little more,” said Libby. “I think I was able to get them on some fakes because they were ready for me to shoot, and I got by the defense and got a couple of shots in and gave us some momentum and gave me some momentum personally.”
Ellsworth’s Steven Mahon scored on a spin move in the lane to make it a one-point game, but Old Town’s Garvey Melmed followed with a 3-pointer of his own and Libby then tipped in his own miss to give the Coyotes a 44-38 cushion with 5:13 left.
Ellsworth later pulled within 48-45 on a 3-pointer by Josh Bean with 2:18 to play and then got the ball back, only to have Bean miss another 3-pointer in a bid to tie the game.
Old Town’s Adam Richardson was fouled with 1:12 remaining and made both ends of a one-and-one to restore the Coyotes to a five-point lead, but Bean answered those free throws with two of his own to cut the margin to 50-47 with 55.5 seconds to play.
Old Town’s Eddie Gonnella missed the front end of a one-and-one with 28 seconds left, but Richardson rebounded the miss for the Coyotes and Libby was fouled in the ensuing action.
Libby made 1 of 2 from the line to give Old Town a two-possession lead at 51-47 with 20.3 seconds left, and after Mahon missed a 3-pointer Libby added two more free throws with 6.2 seconds remaining.
“It doesn’t take a lot to get Garrett going,” said Old Town coach Brian McDormand. “When he hits some shots it makes us go, so as all the good teams do they get the ball to their best player, and that’s our game plan.”
Old Town also got some solid complementary play from its center tandem of Richardson and Zach Bartlett, who combined for 17 points and 12 rebounds with each grabbing six rebounds and Bartlett scoring all 11 of his points during the first half.
“I thought Adam and Zach did a great job in the post sharing duties,” said McDormand, “and everybody played better defensively in the second half.”
Libby added seven rebounds while Melmed contributed seven points, eight rebounds and four assists for the Coyotes.
Mahon led Ellsworth with 14 points and four assists, while Bean had nine points and seven rebounds, Jake Maguire scored eight points, Brandon Braley added seven points and freshman Bruce St. Peter pulled down six rebounds.
Old Town, which finished with a 36-25 rebounding advantage, used that inside dominance to build a 10-2 lead on a follow-up basket by Gonnella two minutes into the contest.
But Ellsworth used its transition game to erase that deficit fairly quickly, with the Eagles drawing within 17-16 by the end of the opening period and forging a 27-27 tie at intermission.
Back-to-back 3-pointers by Bean — his first points of the game — and Braley gave Ellsworth a 33-27 lead early in the third quarter, and while a Libby 3-pointer rallied Old Town within 34-32 a buzzer-beating follow-up basket by Jeff Weeks restored Ellsworth to a four-point lead entering the final period.
An earlier version of this story contained an identity error in the caption of the last photo. Old Town’s Cam Archer, not Garrett Libby, reacted to a foul called against him during the second half against Ellsworth on Thursday night.