Henry Westrich scored 21 points and Matt Fleming added 19 as top-ranked Bangor pulled away from No. 8 Lewiston 68-36 in a Class AA North boys basketball quarterfinal Tuesday at Red Barry Gymnasium.
The win was Bangor’s first during postseason play since a 2012 Eastern Maine Class A quarterfinal victory over Lawrence of Fairfield — during Roger Reed’s final year as the Rams’ head coach — but it did not come quite as easily as the final score suggested.
“Any time we step on the floor, especially in the playoffs, and come out with the ‘W’ it’s something to be excited about,” Bangor coach Brad Libby said. “It’s exciting for the guys because they’ve worked so hard all year long, but I think there’s a lot of things we can work on.”
Bangor held just a 35-23 advantage when Fleming, the Rams’ All-Maine senior forward, went to the bench with his four fouls with 3:16 left in the third quarter.
Lewiston had sufficiently hung around, just waiting for an opportunity to capitalize on some Bangor misfortune, but Westrich and senior forward Noah Missbrenner made sure that did not happen.
Rather than watch their lead evaporate with Fleming sidelined for the rest of the period, Westrich and Missbrenner combined for 13 points during a 15-2 Bangor blitz to close out the quarter.
“Henry and I kind of gave each other a little nod like, ‘Let’s this going,’” said Missbrenner, who added 15 points to the Bangor offense, including a 3-for-4 night from 3-point land. “We were pretty flat the hole game, so we were just trying to provide a spark with Matt on the bench. It was good to make some shots and get the score up a bit.”
Senior guard Damien Vance, who was honored before the game for scoring his 1,000th career point during Bangor’s loss at Edward Little in last Thursday’s regular-season finale, started the run with a 15-foot pull-up jumper, then Westrich scored off an offensive rebound and on a drive to make it 41-23.
Two free throws by Lewiston’s Yasin Mohamud slowed the Rams momentarily, but Missbrenner scored on low-post move and followed a baseline drive by Westrich with a layup off a Westrich feed before closing out the quarter with a buzzer-beating 3-pointer from beyond the key.
The Blue Devils also committed 14 of their 31 turnovers for the game during the third quarter as Bangor welcomed Fleming back onto the court at the start of the final period with a 50-25 advantage.
“As I’ve said all year it doesn’t matter whose night it is, we have multiple pieces, and tonight Noah and Henry really stepped up in the third quarter and the beginning of the fourth to push us over that hump,” Libby said. “You could see that once we got over that hump our energy came up.
“We just need to start with that energy from the get-go.”
Westrich finished 10 for 15 from the field overall and scored 17 points after intermission when Bangor outscored Lewiston 40-19.
“I know for me at least none of my threes were falling, so I was just focused to getting it to other players or laying it in myself,” said Westrich, a junior forward. “Then Noah caught fire from three, which opened things up for everyone else.”
Bangor (17-2) advances to next Tuesday’s regional semifinals at the Cross Insurance Arena in Portland against the winner of Thursday’s quarterfinal between No. 4 Deering of Portland and No. 5 Portland. Bangor defeated each of those teams once during the regular season.
Cole Pringle led Lewiston (3-16) with seven points.