WINSLOW — For Winslow boys basketball coach Jared Browne, the Black Raiders journey to the Eastern B tournament began Feb. 16 of last year. One night earlier, Winslow had lost at home in a preliminary round game to Oceanside.
“I really like our chances in the future,” Browne said after that game. “These guys saw this game. They don’t want to lose a prelim at home anymore.”
Almost exactly a year later, Winslow had another chance to advance to the quarterfinals at the Bangor Auditorium. This time, Winslow came through, holding off 11th-seeded Washington, 65-58, in a preliminary round game Wednesday night.
“That was the whole pregame speech,” Browne said. “We started Feb. 16. Today was the goal. We got back here today and now we’re in Bangor. That’s where we want to be.”
No. 6 Winslow (14-5) will play No. 3 Mt. Desert Island (15-3) at 8 p.m., Friday in Bangor. Washington finishes at 8-11, with seven of those losses by seven points or less.
Winslow nearly ran Washington off the court in the first quarter. Washington came out in a man-to-man defense, and Winslow shredded it with penetration by guards Trevor Lovely and Connor Wildes, outside shooting by Nason Lanphier, and the rebounding of Lovely, Wildes, Justin Martin, and Austin Ireland (20 points, 19 rebounds). Winslow led 18-4 at one point and 22-9 after one quarter.
Washington chipped away behind sophomores Gage Feeney (20 points, 7 rebounds) and Austin Seavey (18 points, 14 boards). Feeney and Seavey combined for 23 points in the first half, and Winslow’s lead was down to 34-28 at halftime.
“We really weren’t expecting them to come out in man-to-man,” Browne said. “We prepared for them like they were going to press 2-2-1, and they didn’t the first quarter. We were like, ‘Wow, that’s just what we wanted.’ We executed our offense and played great. That second quarter, they came out in the 2-2-1, and it was like we had never seen it before, even though we practiced with it for two days.
“Once we adjusted, we were fine. It’s just while we were adjusting, they hit some shots, and that’s a pretty good team.”
Washington ran off eight straight points to start the third quarter and take its first lead at 36-34. Jacob Schoppee (13 points) started heating up, and Seavey continued to grab more than his share of the available rebounds. After three, Washington led, 44-42.
“Probably after the third quarter was when we realized that this can’t be the end,” said Lovely, who finished with 19 points.
With about three minutes left in the third quarter, Winslow had switched to a 2-3 zone to try to contain Feeney and Seavey inside. In the fourth quarter, Browne made a more subtle move, placing Ireland farther away from the basket. It worked, as Feeney’s only points in the fourth quarter came on two 3-pointers, and Seavey did not take a shot in the final eight minutes.
“The end of the third quarter, we went to a zone, and tried to take that away,” Browne said. “(We) really didn’t do a good job in rotating out to Seavey still. At the third quarter break, we made an adjustment, made Austin come out a little bit more — put him on Seavey on the high post, just so if the shot does go up, then Austin’s got an easier chance to box him out. That’s what did it for us.”
Winslow still needed to make its first five field goal attempts in the fourth quarter to take the lead for good. Washington hung in, and trailed 60-58 with 51.3 seconds to play when Andrew Farnsworth was called for an intentional foul while trying to get the ball back. Wildes made a free throw, then two more, and Washington never scored again.
Ireland and Mike Petrovic are Winslow’s only seniors, and are hoping to spread the attitude that one more step this season won’t be enough.
“It’s my senior year,” Ireland said, “so we’re going to give it everything we got.”
Matt DiFilippo — 861-9243