HOULTON, Maine — The Houlton boys wasted little time getting points on the board Thursday evening, as junior Nick Brewer received the opening tip and converted for a layup just two seconds into the Shires’ game against Presque Isle.
But after that, it was all Presque Isle as the Wildcats scored early and often, racing to a 23-9 first quarter lead and the Shires never recovered. Presque Isle went on to a 71-51 victory over Houlton.
The Wildcats shooting prowess was on display throughout the night, as Presque Isle lofted multiple shots from behind the 3-point arc, connecting on eight of them.
Presque Isle’s Griffin Guerrette was a huge part of the Wildcats offense, as the senior sharpshooter poured in 29 points to lead all players. Junior Jonah Hudson added 21 points, despite being shut out in the fourth quarter. Sophomore Caleb Wheaton connected on five 3-pointers for 15 points on the night.
Houlton was led by sophomore Keegan Gentle with 18 points, while seniors Cameron Cleary and Nick Perfitt tallied 12 and 10 points, respectively.
“We talked about the need to start the game with intensity,” Presque Isle coach Terry Cummings said. “Houlton is one of the elite teams in Class C, so we knew we had to be up for this game. If we want to be an elite team, we knew we had to walk onto someone else’s home floor and show we could play with a good team, such as Houlton.”
In the first quarter, Guerrette was nearly perfect from the floor connecting for three field goals and a pair of 3-pointers to account for 12 of his team’s 23 points.
The Wildcats pushed their lead to 20 points (45-25) by halftime, and led by 22 after three periods (61-39).
“We stepped up tremendously on offense tonight,” coach Cummings said. “Our defense was good, but we gave up more points than I would have liked.”
Coach Cummings praised the efforts of Trace Cyr, a 6-foot, 3-inch junior, who drew the tough assignment of defending against Houlton’s big man, 6-8 senior center Cameron Cleary. Cyr managed to prevent the Shires from working the ball down low to Cleary for much of the game.
“Trace has been coming on in recent games,” he said. “That’s what we need him to do for us defensively. Other guys have been stepping up for us, they are playing with confidence and they are doing what they need to do.”
Houlton shot extremely well from the foul line, converting 14 of 20 free throws (70 percent). Presque Isle struggled a bit with its free throws, making 9 of 17 (53 percent).
With the win, the Wildcats improved to 9-2, while Houlton dropped to 8-3 on the season. Two of the Shires’ three losses were at the hands of Presque Isle. The two squads will not meet in the postseason as Presque Isle competes in the Class B North region, while Houlton is in Class C North.