BANGOR, Maine — When Schenck of East Millinocket started out its season losing its first three games, veteran coach Derrick Thompson didn’t panic.
Taking a page out of Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers playbook, Thompson told his team to “relax.”
“Our season started right out on the wrong foot. We lost our first three, and it seemed like the wheels were coming off the bus,” the coach said. “We all just needed to relax. It’s a long season.”
That philosophy is something that has carried forward throughout the regular season and into the playoffs. Sixth seed Schenck (15-5) received a pair of 20-plus performances from seniors Justin Thompson and Chris King en route to a 65-46 upset victory over No. 3 Hodgdon on Tuesday morning in a Class C North quarterfinal at the Cross Insurance Center.
The Wolverines advance to Friday’s 2:05 p.m. semifinal against No. 2 Fort Fairfield (18-1), which beat Piscataquis Community of Guilford. The Hawks end their season with a 12-7 record.
Going into the game, Hodgdon coach Robbie Smith said the Hawks wanted to try to contain Schenck standout Justin Thompson and force other Wolverines to pick up the scoring slack. The Hawks held Thompson to just four points in the first quarter, but the rest of the squad picked up the scoring slack.
King rose to the challenge, dropping eight points in the first quarter en route to a stellar, 22-point performance for the Wolverines. Justin Thompson picked up the offensive output in the second half, finishing with 23 points to lead all players.
“Chris has been a great asset ever since junior high,” coach Thompson said. “Once he learned to accept he was going to be the No. 2 guy, he excelled. Now, we have a pretty formidable one-two punch between he and Justin.”
Senior Daden Palmer led Hodgdon with 15 points while senior Kevin McAfee added eight and junior Wyatt Foster chipped in seven.
“Our whole idea was to focus on Palmer and try to keep McAfee out of the block because he is so tough down low,” Thompson said. “Palmer … he’s physically a stud. How many kids can shoot moving away from the basket better than him?”
Hodgdon is senior laden as seven Hawks — Palmer, McAfee, Jordyn Merritt, Noah Nash, Ben Tuttle, Devin Ramsey and Dillon Buzzell — played their final high school basketball game.
That fact was not lost on Smith after the game as the team had an emotional gathering inside the locker room.
“It’s hard to watch those guys play for the last time on the court, but they have had a great run and had a lot more opportunities than other teams get,” Smith said. “It’s hard to lose the majority of your team.”