BANGOR – During its 12-game win streak, the Waterville Senior High School boys basketball team won by making teams play at its accelerated pace. When they’re at their best, the Purple Panther run, and dare their opponent to keep pace.
On Saturday morning at the Bangor Auditorium, Presque Isle did what no team has managed in more than a month. The Wildcats slowed Waterville down, and in the process took a 47-45 win in the Eastern Class B quarterfinals.
“They were very consistent in controlling the tempo and not letting us get out and go,” Waterville coach Jason Briggs said.
No. 2 Presque Isle (16-3) will face No. 3 Mt. Desert Island in the semifinals Wednesday. Waterville, the seven seed, ends its best season in more than a decade with a 14-6 record.
“We were trying to make it so they couldn’t throw outlet passes, so they couldn’t push up the court. And we got some of their good players out of the game with foul trouble,” Presque Isle forward Tyler Brooks said.
The Wildcats led 43-32 with five minutes left in the game, but Waterville rallied. With eight seconds left, Josh Gormley scored on a putback to cut Presque Isle’s lead to two, 47-45. After a timeout, the Wildcats turned the ball over, giving the Panthers one last chance.
Jordan DeRosby’s 3-point try from the corner went off the rim, and Brooks grabbed the rebound for the Wildcats, ending the game.
“We ran a sideline play for Jordan. It was a designed play. We had no timeouts to design anything else,” Briggs said.
It was a close game throughout, and Waterville held a 24-21 lead at the half. Presque Isle took its first lead on a Brooks basket with 5:42 left in the third quarter. Presque Isle focused its offense on the low post duo of Brooks and Bradley Shield. The 6-foot-5 Brooks scored a team-high 19 points, while the 6-8 Shields added 14.
“They only could match up with one of us,” Brooks said.
“Overall, they just controlled the tempo. Obviously, they want to get it in the post. We didn’t want it to get to Brooks, period, and they did a great job getting to the post in the first half,” Briggs said. ”We tried to adjust by doing some double teaming, but they did well throughout.”
The Panthers also got into foul trouble. Gormley and J.P. Michaud each had three fouls in the first half, and Gormley picked up his fourth with 3:42 left in the third quarter.
“When our guards aren’t on the floor, it’s tough for us to make plays,” Briggs said.
Gormley scored a game-high 25 points, including Waterville’s final nine points. Justin Jabar scored 11 points for Waterville, and Chris Hale grabbed 12 rebounds.
“A great run,” Briggs said of the season. “I’m proud of the kids.”
Travis Lazarczyk – 861-9242