After his twin sister led the Central Aroostook girls to victory and a spot in the regional championship earlier in the day, senior Brayden Bradbury promised his coach the Panther boys would follow suit.
Central Aroostook of Mars Hill ended George Stevens Academy’s streak of four consecutive years reaching the regional championship game on Friday by posting a 60-58 victory in a Class C boys semifinal at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor.
“It’s an unbelievable feeling,” Bradbury said. “I told coach ‘If the girls win, I promise you we are going to win tonight.’”
Bradbury’s twin sister Breann helped guide the CA girls to a 35-32 victory over Dexter earlier in the day.
The top-seeded Panthers (16-4) move on to play No. 2 Dexter (20-0) in Saturday’s 8:30 p.m. Class C North title game.
The fourth-seeded Eagles wound up 18-3.
CA senior Jacob Carvell led all players with 24 points, while junior Josh Thomas added 15, senior Ethan Pryor had eight and Bradbury chipped in seven points, 12 rebounds, two steals and a blocked shot.
Senior Milos Sujica paced the Eagles with 18 points before fouling out with three minutes to play in regulation. Fourteen of Sujica’s points came in the fourth quarter.
Senior Caden Matson chipped in 13 points for the Eagles, while sophomore David Gadsby added 11.
The Panthers led throughout much of the contest, but GSA wiped away a seven-point, fourth-quarter deficit and finally took the lead (51-50) with 3:20 to play in regulation. Sujica guided the Eagles on an 8-0 run with a 3-pointer sandwiched between two layups.
Trailing 55-52, Carvell hit a 3-pointer with about a minute to play in the fourth quarter, knotting the game at 55-55. GSA tried playing for the final shot in regulation, but was called for a player-control foul giving the ball back to the Panthers with 25.8 seconds left.
Then it was the Panthers turn to work the clock, but that plan nearly proved disastrous, if not for a heads-up play by Bradbury. As CA lofted an inbounds pass, Matson stole the ball near midcourt and was heading for an easy layup.
Bradbury smartly made a diving attempt to steal the ball, causing a foul in the process and leaving just 2.4 seconds on the clock.
“I knew we had a foul to give,” Bradbury said.
In overtime, Carvell gave the Panthers a quick 56-55 lead they would never relinquish.
“I have to give GSA a lot of credit, they played incredibly well tonight,” CA coach Jason Woodworth said. “It just happened to be our night tonight.”
Last season, the Panthers were also the No. 1 seed but bowed out in the quarterfinals with a 54-53 loss to Sumner.
“This is an unbelievable feeling,” Bradbury said. “We have all worked so hard this year, grinding every day and now we finally get to see it pay off. It’s awesome.”