Playing in the tournament under the bright lights at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor can produce with some nervousness.
And those dynamics most often affect a team’s offensive production.
Jonesport-Beals coach Skip Alley, who has experienced the tournament as a player and as a coach, knows that good defense can be the best antidote.
Second-seeded Jonesport-Beals harassed No. 7 Deer Isle-Stonington with relentless man-to-man defense while building a 20-point lead that led to a 63-45 Class D North boys quarterfinal victory on Saturday night.
The Royals (16-2), who advanced to the regional title game last year, move on to face No. 3 Greater Houlton Christian Academy (16-2) in next Thursday’s 2:05 p.m. semifinal at the Cross Center.
“I always tell the kids, survive and advance up here,” Alley said of some potential tourney jitters.
“We really focus on defense. I thought the kids worked really hard on defense.”
The Royals won both regular-season meetings against the Mariners, who finished at 6-12, but this effort was its best of the three defensively. J-B afforded DI-S only 37 field-goal attempts, forced several of the Mariners’ 22 turnovers, and emerged with a 35-23 rebounding edge.
The Royals used their scrappy defense to build an early lead they would not relinquish. All five starters scored at least one point while manufacturing a 12-3 lead 4:18 into the game.
While both teams had turnover issues in the first half, J-B outrebounded DI-S 21-10 while shooting 14-for-30 from the field (47 percent).
“I think it all starts with defense and then keeping the whole team organized, running our offense,” said junior guard Adam Robinson, whose 15 points, seven rebounds, five assists and four steals led the Royals.
“It feels great to win up here, I love playing here. It’s something else,” he added.
Alvin Beal Jr. (7 rebounds), Ryan Alley (5 rebounds) and Kaiden Crowley tossed in 13 points apiece in an unselfish performance by the Royals.
Coleman Brown paced the Mariners with 13 points and four rebounds and Nathan Thompson posted 12 points, while Dillan Steele chipped in with eight points and four rebounds and Myles Brown added six points and four boards.
J-B led by as many as 20 points (38-18) early in the third quarter, but DI-S made a determined rally and used a 12-2 run to cut the deficit to 49-41 on a Thompson 3-pointer with 4:53 left.
But the Royals closed it out behind the play of Robinson, who scored five points in their game-clinching 14-4 surge.