When the game is on the line and you have a player as big, strong and talented as Jackson Curtis, you get him the ball.
Ellsworth High School’s rugged senior leader exerted his influence near the basket, scoring seven of his team’s last eight points on Friday night to help the Eagles escape with a 58-51 Class B North quarterfinal victory over Winslow at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor.
“We pound the ball inside, get easy shots and that’s basically the way we do it,” Curtis said.
Coach Peter Austin’s Eagles (16-3) play No. 3 Washington Academy of East Machias (13-5) in a 7 p.m. semifinal on Wednesday, Feb. 19.
Coach Ken Lindlof’s No. 7 Black Raiders finished the season at 12-8.
Ellsworth was put to the test by a Winslow team that actually kept pretty good tabs on the 6-foot-4 Curtis, who finished with a game-high 26 points, 11 rebounds and a blocked shot.
With the Eagles clinging to a 50-49 lead, Curtis scored from down low with 1:26 to play. Winslow eventually called timeout with 52 seconds left, only to commit an unforced turnover.
Curtis answered with two free throws, then followed a Winslow miss by making one of two from the line and converting two more with 17.8 seconds left to put the game out of reach.
“I think it came down to execution. They started missing shots and we started scoring the easy paint buckets,” said senior Darby Barry, who contributed 12 points and five rebounds for Ellsworth.
Hunter Curtis added nine points.
“At the end of it, we had some empty possessions and they were just too strong for us inside,” Lindlof said. “Obviously Jackson Curtis is a handful.”
Senior Colby Pomeroy was the catalys for Winslow, connecting for 19 points and snaring nine rebounds. He finished the night with 998 career points.
The Black Raiders’ balanced offense also included seven points Jacob Berard and six apiece from Jason Reynolds (12 rebounds), Andrew Poulin and Nicholas Girard.
Ellsworth led by as many as eight in the third quarter, but two Girard 3-pointers helped spark the Black Raiders, who led 45-42 early in the fourth quarter.
“They started to outplay us physically. We knew we had to match that and went back out there and got the job done,” Barry said.