There’s no mystery to how the Hermon High School boys basketball team has racked up 41 consecutive victories.
It all starts on the defensive end.
Top-seeded Hermon limited No. 8 Presque Isle to 15 points through three quarters on Saturday afternoon, setting the tone for a 58-30 Class B North victory at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor.
Coach Mark Reed’s Hawks (19-0) play No. 5 Maine Central Institute of Pittsfield (15-4), a 58-52 overtime winner over No. 4 Oceanside on Saturday, in next Wednesday’s 3:35 p.m. semifinal in Bangor.
It was Hermon’s third win of the season over Presque Isle, which wound up 9-11.
The Wildcats were able to slow down Hermon with their 2-3 zone, but the Hawks bottled up Presque Isle playing man-to-man. PI shot 3-for-26 through three quarters on the way to a 23 percent effort for the game.
“Defensively, we just worked so hard. If the ball’s not going in and you’re working hard defensively, that forgives a lot of things,” Reed said.
The Wildcats committed 17 turnovers, 12 of which came in the first half.
Hermon collectively refuses to get caught up in the winning streak dynamic.
“We usually like to block out what happened last year and just focus on the next game,” said senior guard Cody Hawes, who led Hermon with 15 points and six rebounds.
“[It’s a] great season we’re having, but it’s always that next game that we’re worried about,” he added.
Hermon slowly took charge while scoring the first 10 points of the contest and extended the advantage to 19 points by halftime. The Hawks put it out of reach by scoring 27 fourth-quarter points.
Seniors Garrett Trask (13 points), Kent Johnson (11) and Joel Bergeron (9) also were key contributors for Hermon, while Isaac Varney added six points and five rebounds and Eli Reed (2) pulled down a team-best seven rebounds.
Hermon shot 11-for-18 (61 percent) in the second half.
The Hawks exude confidence, which coach Reed said is a function of their familiarity with each other and their hard work.
“They’re pretty mild-mannered kids, pretty laid-back, but they compete hard,” Reed said. “They just kind of take the same approach every night, to work and try to get better.”
Senior Jonah Hudson led Presque Isle with 10 points and five rebounds and Jacob Sjoberg posted eight points and and five boards.