AUGUSTA – Hyde Coach Peter Rowe kept waiting for the big run.
“I thought we were going to break the game open a little bit earlier,” Rowe said.
Second-seeded Hyde got all it could handle from tiny North Haven, coming away with a 49-39 victory in a Western Class D boys’ basketball semifinal Wednesday morning at the Augusta Civic Center.
The Phoenix (18-2) advanced to the regional final Saturday against No. 4 Valley.
Sixth-seeded North Haven, with an enrollment of 17, is finished at 17-3.
Warsame Mohamed, a 6-foot-4 Hyde senior, led all scorers with 23 points, and 6-6 Akim Sanni added 12.
Hyde methodically lengthened its lead from 16-12 after the first quarter to 28-18 at halftime and 36-24 after the third quarter.
But the Hawks would not go away, closing to within five twice in the fourth quarter, including 42-37 with 2:19 left.
“They play very tough,” Rowe said.
But North Haven’s aggressive defense brought whistles. The Hawks used only seven players, and two of them fouled out – Dalton Hornby with 4:50 left and Zebadiah Campbell with 1:33 to go. Both picked up their fourth foul in the third quarter.
“If it hadn’t been for the fact that they were in foul trouble, this would have been a different story,” Hawks Coach Roman Cooper said. “There’s no question in my mind.
“Because of the foul trouble we had to play back, and they got the first step on us.”
Whenever the Hawks seemed to be getting close, Mohamed took the ball and drove.
In the closing minutes, Hyde worked the ball into Mohamed or Sanni, producing layups or free throws.
“We got down to (a lead of) five points. I said, ‘let’s execute the offense,’” Rowe said.
It worked. The Phoenix went on a six-point run to seal the game.
“When we’re composed, we break teams down,” Rowe said.
Indeed, Hyde has routed teams all year. The 49 points Wednesday was one of its lowest totals all season.
“As far as I’m concerned, we have one of the best defenses in Class D basketball,” Cooper said. “These kids are quick. They just work their tails in practice. And these kids showed it here today.
An aggressive man-to-man defense, using only seven players all game?
“We also do a lot of running in practice,” Cooper said with a smile.
Rowe said the close game should help his team as it moves on to face Valley, a team the Phoenix has already defeated twice this season.
“We don’t fear anybody,” Rowe said. “We basically think we’re in the driver’s seat. They have to stop us, and I don’t think anybody can stop us.”
Kevin Thomas can be reached at 791-6411 or at: