The postgame celebration was a little more subdued Saturday after the Caribou boys basketball team defeated Ellsworth 62-40 for its second straight Class B North title than it was at the same point a year ago en route to ending a 50-year state championship drought.
Such are the emotional differences in being the favorite instead of the upstart..
“Beating a 42-0 Hermon team [in the regional final] like we did last year is tough to beat, especially coming in as the underdogs,” Vikings’ senior forward Parker Deprey said. “There’s a lot of expectations this year and I’m just hoping we’re meeting those.”
Few among the big afternoon crowd at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor could have left the arena after Caribou’s third win of the season over Ellsworth anything less than impressed with a team that has won 36 of its last 37 games over the last two seasons, including a 49-47 double-overtime victory over Cape Elizabeth in last year’s state final for the program’s first gold ball since 1969.
The top-ranked Vikings used their transition offense to build a 17-point halftime lead while the defense constantly made life tough for Ellsworth’s leading scorers, brothers Jackson and Hunter Curtis, who were limited to a combined 18 points on 7 of 22 shooting from the field.
“They’re a great team,” said Ellsworth coach Peter Austin, whose Eagles averaged just 43.7 points per game in its three chances against the Caribou defense. “They move the ball well. They shoot well. They really don’t have a lot of weaknesses.”
The victory advances coach Kyle Corrigan’s club, 20-1 this winter, to Friday’s 8:45 p.m. state final back at the Cross Center against Maranacook of Readfield. The top-ranked Black Bears (19-2) defeated No. 6 Wells 60-48 in Friday’s Class B South final in Portland.
No. 2 Ellsworth finished its season at 17-4.
“Our guys played well,” Corrigan said. “I’ve told the guys before that if we can execute on offense and lock down on defense we’re going to be just fine. I thought we played well both ways today.”