Gavin Gardner of the Woodland Dragons goes strong to the hoop as Van Buren's Blake Martin defends during Monday afternoon's Class D North quarterfinal at the Cross Insurance Center. Credit: Joseph Cyr | Houlton Pioneer Times

BANGOR, Maine — Experience and accuracy made for an unbeatable combination Monday afternoon as top-ranked Woodland overwhelmed No. 8 Van Buren 76-29 in a Class D North boys basketball quarterfinal at the Cross Insurance Center.

Junior guard Christopher Plissey scored 11 of his 15 points during the first five minutes of play Monday as the defending regional champions ran off 16 unanswered points after spotting Van Buren a 2-0 lead.

Woodland, the defending Class D North champion, improved to 17-1 and faces No. 4 Schenck of East Millinocket in Thursday’s 3:35 p.m. semifinal.

Schenck, 12-7, defeated No. 5 Easton 69-52 in Thursday’s earlier semifinal.

The game was similar to one coach Ben Maloney’s Woodland club experienced two years ago — only then the Dragons were on the other side of a 72-31 Class C quarterfinal loss to George Stevens Academy of Blue Hill.

“We came in against GSA and got down 17-0 when all these guys were freshmen and sophomores,” said Maloney. “Now you expect them to be a little more relaxed in this atmosphere, they’ve been through a state championship game last year that we lost by one point so it shouldn’t be a big factor for us,”

Woodland began the game shooting at a blistering pace, with Plissey making all four first-quarter shots he took including three 3-pointers as the Dragons built a 23-5 lead by the end of the opening period.

Little changed the rest of the way, as Woodland finished the contest shooting 60 percent from both the field (29 of 48) and from the 3-point arc (12 of 20).

“I got hot early and just kept shooting,” said Plissey. “That’s what I like to do, keep shooting when it’s going in.”

Alex Morrison added 13 points for the Dragons while Sabre Lee Phelps and Gavin Gardner scored 11 points apiece.

Senior point guard Drew Hayward dished out a game-high nine assists — including four in the first quarter alone — for Woodland to go with seven points.

“You’ve got to get other people involved because you can’t do it all by yourself, especially at the tournament,” said Hayward, who scored his 1,000th career point late in the regular season. “It’s good to have everyone scoring so you can get a lane to the rim and everyone gets in a rhythm.”

Woodland extended its lead to 42-9 at halftime while shooting 14 of 22 from the field overall and 6 of 11 from beyond the 3-point arc.

Junior guard Luc Perreault paced 10-9 Van Buren with 15 points.

Ernie Clark

Ernie Clark is a veteran sportswriter who has worked with the Bangor Daily News for more than a decade. A four-time Maine Sportswriter of the Year as selected by the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters...