LEE, Maine — Julian Diggs scored 18 points and teammate Brad Kong blocked a last-second shot as Lee Academy outlasted Stearns of Millinocket 47-46 in a battle of two of the top five boys basketball teams in the Eastern Maine Class C Heal point ratings at Mallett Gymnasium on Tuesday night.
The win avenged a 45-31 loss to the Minutemen at Millinocket eight days earlier, and lifts Lee to 8-3. Stearns, which had its six-game winning streak halted, also is 8-3.
Lee, which held a 14-point second-quarter lead, trailed 41-36 entering the final period, but after Stearns extended its lead to 43-37 on a runner from the lane by Lucas McLain, Diggs turned up the defensive pressure to spark a decisive 9-0 run by the Pandas.
First the senior point guard took a steal in for a layup, then he made another steal that led to his 3-pointer off an inbounding pass from Jason Wu to draw Lee within 43-42 with 3:53 remaining.
A baseline drive by Devin Peters gave the Pandas a 44-43 edge with 3:04 left, and Diggs then drove into the lane and fed the 6-foot-8-inch Kong for a layup to make it a three-point game.
Stearns’ Kyle McVey countered with his fourth 3-pointer of the game to forge a 46-46 tie with 1:25 left before Kong made 1 of 2 from the line with 38.6 seconds remaining to provide the eventual margin of victory.
Stearns had the ball last after retaining possession on a held ball in the frontcourt with 7.4 seconds left.
Lee had three fouls to give before sending the Minutemen to the free-throw line, and committed one with 5.3 seconds left.
Stearns then got the ball to center Riley Whitney with the subsequent inbounding pass, but Kong blocked his close-range shot and Wu tracked down the loose ball as time expired.
Kong finished with eight points and nine rebounds for Lee, which outrebounded Stearns 44-24. Cherif Fall added seven points and 10 rebounds, while Peters scored six points and Steven Ma had five points and nine rebounds.
McLain scored 14 points to pace Stearns, while McVey had 10 points and Marc Morneault added 10.