BANGOR, Maine — Facing an eight-point deficit against No. 9 Washington Academy of East Machias with 1:49 left to play, the top-seeded Hermon High School Hawks had to resort to a full-court press.
“You don’t want to press a team like WA because they have such quick guards and they do a lot of things off the dribble. But we were in a position where we had to,” said Hermon coach Mark Reed.
The desperate Hawks forced numerous turnovers with the press and turned them into points Saturday night en route to a 55-51 Class B boys quarterfinal triumph at the Cross Insurance Center.
“This shows the grit and character of the kids,” added a proud Reed, whose team scored the final 12 points.
“They hadn’t pressed the whole game and we weren’t ready for it,” said WA senior center and tri-captain Justin Villone. “They got on a run and we couldn’t stop them.”
“Anything can happen. We believe in ourselves,” said Hermon junior guard and co-captain Keenan Marseille, who scored eight of the 12 points.
Hermon (17-2) plays No. 4 Orono (16-3) in Wednesday’s 3:35 p.m. semifinal.
Marseille triggered the rally with a traditional three-point play off an offensive rebound to make it 51-46.
Jordan Bishop’s steal and layup made it a one-possession game before Marseille tied it with 31.2 seconds left with another three-point play after freshman Isaac Varney stole the ball and fed him for a layup.
WA (13-7) was called for a five-second violation on an inbounds play and Varney was fouled after Hermon inbounded the ball. He calmly sank the game-winning free throws with 14.9 seconds left.
“I was definitely nervous. There were a lot of people watching us. But we practice free throws every day after practice and it really paid off for us,” said Varney.
Marseille grabbed a rebound after a Raider miss and an intentional foul was called. He missed both free throws but was fouled again on the inbounds pass and he converted both to sew up the win.
“We didn’t handle the full-court pressure well. We made a couple of mistakes,” said WA coach Barry Terrill. “But give them credit. They’re really athletic and they made some nice steals and nice finishes and they shot well from the free throw line to close the deal.”
Varney finished with a game-high 25 points to go with five rebounds, three steals and two assists. Marseille wound up with 17 points and five rebounds and Bishop contributed 10 points, nine rebounds and two assists. Cody Hawes added five rebounds, four steals and two assists with two points.
Dynamic junior point guard Kyle Case tallied 15 points for WA, Villone posted 11 points, Sean Seavey contributed eight points and eight rebounds and Pei Kai Justin Su added eight points.