FARMINGTON — It doesn’t matter where teams play. A lot of boys basketball games this season in the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class A are going to go down to the final possession.

That was the case Tuesday night, as Mt. Blue hosted Bangor in the little gym at Mt. Blue Junior High School. The Cougars are playing there due to construction at the high school, and they had shots to win and tie in the final seconds before conceding a 56-54 victory to Bangor.

The Cougars (2-2) are temporarily 10th in the Eastern A standings, and nearly pulled this one out with two rallies in the fourth quarter. Trailing by nine, Mt. Blue ran off 10 straight points for a 51-50 lead. Bangor regained its lead, and was on top 56-52 with 25 seconds left.

Nick Hilton (game-high 23 points) made two free throws for the Cougars, and Bangor’s Alex Campbell (13 points) missed the front end of a one-and-one. Mt. Blue got the ball and brought it across halfcourt before calling timeout with 10.1 seconds left.

When play resumed, Mt. Blue’s Eric Berry drove to the basket and fired a cross-court pass to Blake Hart on the left side. Hart’s 3-pointer was off, and while Berry got the rebound, his forced shot just before the buzzer was blocked in traffic.

There are so many “what-ifs” in a two-point game, and naturally, a technical foul called on Berry became a big play. It took possession away from Mt. Blue with the Cougars leading 51-50 and on their 10-0 run with 2:34 to play. Campbell made both free throws as a result of the technical foul.

“It seemed to me like the game turned on that technical foul,” Mt. Blue coach Jim Bessey said. “I think it was their player who was doing the talking, not our player, and the official was confused and called a technical on the wrong player.

“It’s part of the game, and you’ve got to play through it,” Bessey added. “Obviously, there was plenty of time left for us to turn it around, and we weren’t able to do that.”

The Cougars also might have lost the game in the final minutes of the third quarter. After the first quarter ended in a 14-14 tie, Mt. Blue led 29-28 at the half on Hart’s 3-pointer at the buzzer.

There were nine lead changes in the third quarter, but Campbell and Patrick Stewart (19 points, 10 rebounds) hit back-to-back 3-pointers to help put the Rams on top, 48-41. During that stretch, Mt. Blue became impatient, and forced two bad shots.

“I think our defense is way ahead of our offense, for sure,” Bessey said.

Although Bangor did not hit a field goal in the fourth quarter, the Rams won by making eight of their nine foul shots. On opening night, Bangor shot 35 percent from the line in an eight-point loss to Hampden.

The Rams also ran their offense better in the second half, committing only three turnovers after the break.

“We had 11 turnovers the first half, and they scored 12 points on them,” Bangor coach Roger Reed said. “That’s always one of the points of emphasis for us. We want to defend, rebound, and take care of the basketball.”

Matt DiFilippo — 861-9243

[email protected]


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