Kooper Kinney is more distributor than scorer as a senior point guard for the Easton High School boys basketball team.
But opponents should take that for granted at their own peril.
Kinney shot just twice over the first 31 minutes of his team’s Class D North semifinal at the Cross Insurance Center on Thursday night, but his tiebreaking layup with 30.5 seconds remaining was the difference as the Bears held off Deer Isle-Stonington 50-48.
“Koop does a great job as the general of our team,” first-year Easton head coach Brad Trask said. “He doesn’t look to shoot that often, he’s more of a facilitator.
“But he’s very good at getting to the basket and he saw an opportunity and took it like you’d want a senior to do.”
No. 6 Easton (14-6) will attempt to capture its first North title since 2016 when it faces No. 4 Machias (11-8), a 79-60 upset winner over top-ranked Jonesport-Beals, in Saturday’s 10:45 a.m. regional final.
Easton never trailed in the contest and led by as many as as many as 13 points. But No. 7 Deer Isle-Stonington (13-7) rallied behind junior guard Myles Brown to tie the game twice, the final time at 48-48 on Brown’s 12-foot jumper with 47.5 seconds left.
Easton then brought the ball into the frontcourt and, after Kinney was unable to pass the ball to backcourt mate Matt Pangburn, he drove the ball all the way to the rim and scored the go-ahead basket while being fouled.
“I gave him a jab step, I saw a lane and took it hard, drew the contact at the end and got the and-one,” Kinney said. “It was a great feeling.”
Kinney missed the free throw but teammate Troy Chasse grabbed the offensive rebound and the Bears worked the clock down to six seconds before Austin Carver was fouled.
Carver missed at the line and Deer Isle-Stonington’s Coleman Brown rebounded, with the Mariners advancing the ball into the frontcourt before calling time with 0.6 seconds left.
The subsequent inbounding pass went to Myles Brown deep along the right sideline, but his contested 3-point bid bounced off the rim as time expired.
“He went right to the corner, which is right where we wanted him,” Kinney said. “It’s the toughest shot on the court.”
Junior forward Camden Michaud led Easton with 16 points and nine rebounds as Easton worked inside — particularly early in the contest — and got Deer Isle-Stonington center Coleman Brown in foul trouble.
“We knew they weren’t very deep on the bench,” Trask said. “They played six guys against Schenck, so we wanted to get them in foul trouble, especially Coleman Brown, just to get him out and give Cam a little space.
“[Brown] picked up a couple and was a little hesitant and Cam went at him.”
Carver added 13 points for the Bears while Pangburn and Chasse scored six points apiece.
Myles Brown led the Mariners with 23 points while Zach Billings added 13 points and 13 rebounds.
“I knew we had the guys that were capable of doing this,” Trask said. “We had our ups and downs during the season like everybody does, but in the last four or five games we’ve started playing the way we want to play.
“Numbers don’t matter when you get to Bangor. It’s just who’s playing the best at that time and right now my guys are clicking.”