ORONO, Maine — The Old Town boys basketball team survived the first two quarters of Wednesday night’s Class B North showdown against Orono thanks to its accuracy from beyond the 3-point arc.
But the Coyotes capped off their second victory of the winter against their neighboring rival in a more traditional way, through hard-nosed man-to-man defense.
Coach Brian McDormand’s club limited Orono to 23 second-half points to secure a 66-57 victory over the Red Riots before a crowd of 750 fans.
“We picked it up on defense in the second half and they started making some turnovers,” said Old Town senior forward Andre Miller. “We just wanted to be more aggressive and attack the ball but not get stupid fouls.
“We had to muscle up because they have some big boys down there.”
Both teams are now 15-3 entering postseason play and await the tabulation of the final Heal point standings after Thursday night’s games.
Old Town struggled with Orono’s physicality early in the game as the host Red Riots attacked the interior with great success.
Junior forward Jake Koffman worked the low post to generate eight first-quarter points and Orono twice built a lead of as many as 11 points, the final time at 24-13 on two free throws by Kam Hines early in the second quarter.
But the Coyotes rallied from long range, making 7 of 17 3-point shots to draw within 34-30 by intermission. Junior guard Ryan Hoogterp worked the corners for three of the long-range shots.
“We were patient on offense,” said McDormand, whose team finished 10-for-23 from beyond the arc for the game. “They were playing zone and we got the ball inside and kicked it out for shots. We shoot the ball well from the perimeter and I have a lot of guys who can do it, so pick your poison against us.
“The guys played great under pressure.”
Old Town switched to a man-to-man defense after the break, and Orono was unable to consistently work the ball inside for high-percentage shots during the game’s later stages.
“We started out with some pressure and tried to play a triangle-and-two and it wasn’t really working,” said McDormand. “So we went to straight halfcourt man and tried to work our strengths against some deficiencies they had, and I thought we played pretty good defense after the first quarter.”
Foul trouble to Koffman also hurt Orono’s quest to attack Old Town’s defense during the final two periods.
“Our post players were on the bench,” said Orono coach Jason Coleman. “There were a couple of calls here and there that we’re still trying to figure out. Early in the game we were dominating in the paint, and then they’re sitting on the bench in foul trouble. Funny how that works.”
Old Town scored seven straight points to take a 37-36 lead on a follow-up shot by Miller with 6:21 left in the third quarter.
Orono’s Jackson Coutts countered with back-to-back baskets — the second after a steal by teammate Nate DeSisto — to restore the Red Riots to a 40-37 lead, and three subsequent free throws by DeSisto left Orono with a 45-43 edge.
But Old Town scored the final nine points of the period to grab a 52-45 advantage — a run capped off by a fast-break 3-pointer by Hoogterp and a 3-pointer by Chad Bartlett off Hoogterp’s dribble penetration.
Old Town missed six of its first 10 free throws in the final period, enabling Orono to eventually draw within 60-57 on a three-point play by Koffman with 1:59 remaining.
But the Coyotes’ free throws finally started to go down, with Kaleb Gifford making two from the line and Drew Coulombe going 4-for-4 over the final 38 seconds to preserve the victory.
Hoogterp led Old Town’s balanced attack with 17 points and six rebounds, while Miller had 14 points and six rebounds, Coulombe had 13 points and eight assists, Kaleb Gifford scored 12 points and Bartlett added 10.
Koffman had 14 points and seven rebounds for Orono before fouling out in the fourth quarter, while DeSisto had 13 points and three steals and Imao Woldring scored nine points, all in the first half.