BANGOR, Maine — Van Buren High School senior forward Jacob Rioux knew it was up to him to come through in the clutch in his team’s Eastern Maine Class D quarterfinal against Jonesport-Beals Monday afternoon at the Cross Insurance Center.
However, the method was a bit surprising, as he launched 3-pointers in 30-foot range.
He hit three long three-pointers en route to scoring 13 of his game-high 33 points in the fourth quarter as the eighth-seeded Crusaders edged No. 16 Jonesport-Beals 57-53.
Van Buren, now 12-8, will take on No. 5 seed Southern Aroostook of Dyer Brook, 14-6, in Thursday’s 3:35 p.m. semifinal. The teams split their regular-season games.
Southern Aroostook rode a pair of freshmen to a 53-45 victory over No. 13 Deer Isle-Stonington in the early afternoon matchup as 6-foot-2 center Nolan Altvater scored a game-high 20 points and guard Jackson Mathers sank six free throws in the final 2:12 to secure the triumph.
Rioux was confident he could hit the long 3-pointers
“They gave me some space so I just shot them,” said Rioux, who averaged 32 points during the season. “I was open so I felt I needed to take those shots.”
“When a kid takes two dribbles over half-court and hits nothing but net, what are you going to do?” said Jonesport-Beals coach Gordon Faulkingham. “You just throw your hands in the air and say ‘I guess it wasn’t meant to be.’”
Jonesport-Beals led 47-45 with 1:50 remaining but Rioux nailed a long 3-pointer to give his team a 48-47 lead.
After Jonesport-Beals’ Osmond Kelley converted a conventional three-point play, Rioux gave his team the lead for good with another 30-foot 3-pointer with one minute left.
Following a Jonesport-Beals turnover, Rioux sank a pair of free throws with 33.8 seconds left.
Sterling Beal’s free throw cut it to 53-51 but Derek Grivois answered with a free throw and, on his second attempt, Paul Rioux grabbed the offensive rebound and was fouled. His free throw with 11 seconds left made it 55-51 and all but sewed up the win.
Jake Rioux had four rebounds and two steals to go with his 33 points. Andre Rossignol contributed nine points, six rebounds and four assists; Justin Sytulek had nine points and seven rebounds and Paul Rioux had nine rebounds.
Sterling Beal had 22 points and eight rebounds to lead 7-13 Jonesport Beals. Cole Beal, who had 30 points in a prelim win over top seed Washburn, received special attention from Van Buren with a box-and-one defense and wound up with 11 points, six rebounds, four assists and three blocked shots. Sam Lyons had 10 points and eight rebounds.
In the opener, Altvater made his quarterfinal debut a memorable one.
“I just came out and played my game and my teammates helped me get there,” said Altvater. “I was thinking about the game when I woke up and how I wanted to do the best I could for the team. I felt good out there.”
Mathers said stepping to the foul line in a critical situation didn’t bother him.
“I always feel comfortable on the free throw line. I practice them all the time,” said Mathers. “I like to shoot them the most when the pressure is on.”
The Warriors were clinging to a 45-42 lead when Mathers sank his first two free throws with 2:12 remaining.
After Kris Melanio hit a free throw with 1:41 remaining, Mathers converted two more 20 seconds later and he added his final two with 1:05 left to make it 51-43 and clinch the win.
“Those two freshmen are very good,” said Deer Isle-Stonington coach Brian Billings.
The Warriors did an effective job on their zone trap to force turnovers.
“We got off to a slow start defensively but we had a good conversation at halftime about it and we picked it up in the second half,” said Altvater, who also had seven rebounds, five steals and two assists.
Cameron Landry finished with 13 points, five rebounds, four steals and two assists. Mathers wound up with eight points and Cody Lassonde contributed six points, four steals and two assists.
Stuart Bray paced the 8-12 Mariners with 16 points, eight rebounds and three assists. Jared Gove had 12 points, six rebounds and two assists; Melanio had nine points, three rebounds and three assists and Lucas Oliver scored eight points and grabbed a game-high 13 rebounds.