The second-seeded Ellsworth High School boys knew they had to build a lead against No. 3 Washington Academy of East Machias in their Class B North semifinal Wednesday night to prevent the Raiders from slowing the game down.
They did just that.
Playing what Ellsworth head coach Peter Austin termed a “perfect half,” the Eagles manufactured a 36-14 lead on Wednesday night to post a 54-34 victory at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor.
Ellsworth (17-3) faces the top seed Caribou (19-1), a 73-32 winner over Old Town, in Saturday’s 3:45 p.m. championship game.
Washington Academy concluded a 14-6 season including a 1-2 mark against Ellsworth.
Ellsworth shot 6-for-8 from the 3-point arc and 12-for-25 overall from the floor in the first half and outrebounded Washington Academy 15-5.
The Raiders went 5-for-16 from the floor and missed all four of their 3-point attempts.
“We moved the ball well, we were getting it into the paint and then kicking it out for [open] threes. And we were hitting shots,” Austin said.
“We didn’t turn the ball over much in the first half and we were hitting shots like crazy,” said Ellsworth senior forward Jackson Curtis, who scored all 10 of his points and grabbed four of his game-high nine rebounds in the first half.
“When we got the ball inside and they collapsed, we kicked it outside and hit shots. When they stopped collapsing, we got some layups. We took what the defense gave us,” Curtis added.
“We had to stay ahead so they wouldn’t stall the ball. We don’t like to play at a slower pace,” said Curtis’ sophomore brother Hunter, who posted a game-high 17 points to go with six rebounds and a game-high five assists.
The Raiders made things interesting in the fourth quarter, trimming a 22-point deficit to 46-34 with five minutes remaining. They held Ellsworth to three baskets in the second half.
But WA never scored again.
Jackson Curtis contributed two assists and two steals while Darby Barry chipped in with 10 points and four rebounds and J’Von James came off the bench and registered six points and seven rebounds.
Connor Crawford added six points.
Cecil Gray’s seven points paced Washington Academy. Evan Ackley and Joshua Ketchen had six points apiece and Daniel Huang, Andon Wood and Jax Lin netted five points each.
Huang corralled six rebounds and Ketchen hauled down four.