ORONO – The Orono boys basketball team parlayed a fast start and a strong finish into a 51-43 Class C victory over Fort Kent on Saturday afternoon.
The Red Riots (6-4) jumped out to a 10-0 lead over a Fort Kent team playing its first game in a week, then held on before scoring the final seven points of the contest to pull away.
“It just shows we’re getting more mature,” said Orono coach Ben Goodwin of his team’s late surge. “We’ve got a young group, and with the more games we play and as we learn from our mistakes, the kids seem to do a lot better staying under control.”
This game matched two teams hoping to use the win to help position themselves for home-court advantage in the preliminary round of the high school basketball tournament that looms just a month away.
Fort Kent (4-4) defeated Orono during their earlier meeting in the St. John Valley, and hoped to use its full-court defensive pressure to keep the Red Riots from capitalizing on its inside strength.
By the time that game plan began to work, Orono already had assumed control.
The Red Riots held Fort Kent scoreless for the game’s first 4 minutes, 30 seconds while using the rebounding of senior forward Bryan Henigan and the playmaking of junior guard Seth Dwyer to forge a 10-0 lead.
“Our physical presence inside didn’t match theirs,” said Fort Kent coach Tim Farrar. “They were very assertive, very aggressive right from the beginning. I think it evened out during the middle part of the game, but at the beginning and the end, we got manhandled at times.”
Fort Kent rallied behind the outside shooting of senior guard Mathew Sherman Pelletier and a banked-in 3-pointer by Matthew Harvey to close within 17-13 by the end of the quarter.
A later six-point run gave Fort Kent the lead at 20-19 on a transition jumper by Sam Bard with 5:07 left in the first half.
But that was the Warriors’ only lead and the lone bright spot of the day for Bard, Fort Kent’s top player who was limited to 15 minutes of playing time due to foul trouble. He finished with four points and six rebounds.
“That helped out a lot,” admitted Goodwin. “He’s a heck of a player, probably one of the top ones we see around. We lucked out, he got some early fouls and that was to our advantage.”
Orono led 26-23 at halftime and 40-35 through three quarters as Dwyer scored 12 points in the middle two periods, but Fort Kent stayed close thanks to a 2-2-1 fullcourt zone defense that forced 28 turnovers.
Fort Kent pulled within one twice in the fourth quarter, the last time at 44-43 on a nice left-handed layup by junior guard Corey Voisine.
But Orono didn’t relinquish the lead, as Collin Bates drove the lane for a basket and followed that with a free throw. Then Josh Craig hit 1 of 2 from the line after a steal and fed Henigan for a layup to give the Red Riots a 50-43 edge.
“The kids just played hard,” said Goodwin. “We talked before the game about how we had to come out and handle their pressure. We still had a lot of turnovers, but we were able to settle down at times, take it to the rim, get fouled, and finally made some foul shots.”
Orono made just 1 of 6 from the line in the final 35 seconds, but held Fort Kent scoreless over the final 3:50 of play to protect its lead.
“A lot of times we didn’t score in the second half to set up our pressure,” said Farrar. “We had a lot of times when we had three guys trapping, but they’re smaller kids and [the Riots] were able to throw it over the top.”
Dwyer finished with a game-high 16 points and six rebounds, while Lloyd Bryant added eight points and six rebounds and Henigan and Bates scored seven points each.
Voisine scored a team-best nine points for Fort Kent, while Pelletier and Drew Blier scored eight points each, and Adam Bouchard grabbed six rebounds.
RED RIOTS 51, WARRIORS 43
Fort Kent (4-4) Orono (6-4)
Player G AG F AF TP Player G AG AF TP
Harvey 1 3 0 0 3 Garcia 0 1 0
Lesaldo 2 5 0 2 4 Rmrsma 0 0 0
Bouchard 1 9 3 4 5 Spencer 1 1 5
Potvin 0 0 0 0 0 Bates 3 4 7
Soucy 1 2 0 0 2 Nason 1 2 3
Voisine 2 8 5 6 9 Bryant 3 7 8
Bard 2 10 0 0 4 Dwyer 5 14 6 15 16
Blier 4 9 0 1 8 Tomer 0 1 0
Bonenfant 0 1 0 0 0 Hecker 0 0 0
Caron 0 2 0 0 0 Henigan 3 4 7
Pelletier 3 9 2 4 8 Craig 2 6 5
Levassur 0 0 0
Totals 16 58 10 17 43 Totals 18 40 15 31 51
Fort Kent 13 23 35 43
Orono 17 26 40 51
3-pt. goals – Fort Kent (1-14): Harvey 1-3, Voisine 0-1, Bouchard 0-2, Pelletier 0-2, Bard 0-3, Blier 0-3; Orono (0-4): Bates 0-1, Bryant 0-1, Dwyer 0-2
Attendance: 150 (est.)