Gabe Gifford’s sophomore season with the Old Town boys basketball team got off to a slow shooting start Tuesday evening at Hermon High School.
But that performance, in his team’s first game of the winter, concluded in white-hot fashion. Gifford made four 3-pointers in the fourth quarter to propel the Coyotes to a 65-62 victory over the Hawks.
Hermon took a 49-48 lead into the final period, but Gifford — who had shot 0-for-7 from the field, including 0-for-4 from beyond the arc, during the first three quarters — buried back-to-back shots from 3-point land to give coach Garrett Libby’s club a sudden 54-49 lead.
Hermon (1-1) withstood a third 3-pointer by Gifford to regain a 58-57 lead with four minutes left after a 3-pointer and a follow-up shot by junior Trey Brown.
The Hawks’ lead grew to 62-58 on an inside basket by Eli Reed and a baseline drive by Brady Reed, but Gifford followed a fadeaway jumper by senior guard Shawn Hoogterp with his fourth 3-pointer of the period to restore Old Town to a 63-62 lead with 60 seconds remaining.
Hermon came up empty on its next possession, and Old Town’s Braydon Brown made two free throws to make it a three-point edge with 23.5 seconds to play.
Hermon had a chance to tie the game, but Old Town defended the 3-point arc well and when Eli Reed got the ball some 15 feet away from the basket in the final seconds, he had to take the ball back out beyond the arc before shooting from the right corner and his last-ditch 3-pointer missed.
Hoogterp paced Old Town with a game-high 18 points while Gifford scored 14 points, 13 during the final eight minutes. Braydon Brown finished with with nine points and six rebounds for the Coyotes.
Brady Reed scored a team-high 17 points for Hermon. Trey Brown scored 12 points as did Jacob Dow, who also contributed 11 rebounds in a reserve role.
Eli Reed scored 10 points and grabbed 12 rebounds and Jaeden Henderson also chipped in 10 points for the Hawks.
This was the first meeting between these Big East Conference Class B North rivals since last February’s tournament. Then, 12th-seeded Old Town scored a 47-42 quarterfinal victory over a No. 4 Hermon team that was missing standout senior Isaac Varney, who is now playing at Husson University in Bangor.
Old Town jumped out to a 10-3 lead in the rematch after a 3-pointer by Hoogterp, but that was be the biggest lead of the game for either team.
Dow entered the game and Hermon quickly ran off 10 unanswered points, with the sophomore center scoring the first five with a basket and a three-point play, both after grabbing offensive rebounds.
Henderson followed with a fast-break basket and a 3-pointer from the right of the key off an Eli Reed assist to give Hermon a 13-10 advantage.
Dow scored twice more after grabbing offensive rebounds as Hermon maintained a 17-14 lead at the end of the opening period, and the Hawks continued to dominate the backboards en route to a 34-30 halftime edge.
The Hawks scored 13 first-half points thanks to second chances off the offensive glass, and finished the game with a 45-24 rebounding advantage.
Old Town rallied to tie the game at 44-44 midway through the third quarter after four straight free throws by Hoogterp, then took a 48-47 lead on two free throws by junior guard Isaac Hayes.
Brady Reed then worked the post to restore Hermon to a one-point edge entering the final period.