Forest Hills junior Evan Worster still looks a lot like the baby-faced kid who walked onto the Augusta Civic Center floor as an eighth-grader for his first tournament game four years ago.

Even then he could play. As a 5-foot-8 guard he scored 13 points to help the Tigers to a semifinal win against Vinalhaven.

“I love the atmosphere, all the people,” Worster said of the Civic Center. “It’s just a different feeling. There’s a lot more energy in the building than the home floor.”

Worster fed off that feeling Saturday, scoring a Class D tournament record 51 points in a quarterfinal win against A.R. Gould. He’s grown more than 6 inches since his debut as an eighth-grader and, at least on Saturday, all his points came in the paint.

“I think the guard skills I developed as an eighth grader have carried over and helped me,” he said. “My size caught up with my skills.”

Worster still has 3-point shooting range and may well need it in Wednesday’s semifinal matchup against rival Valley. Still just 16 years old, he plays more like a man than a kid, thanks to three-days-a-week weightlifting sessions during the past year.

As an eighth-grader he looked up to teammates like Cody Gilboe and Cory Plante. Today the young players — the Tigers start three freshmen — look to Worster.

“He helps every kid he can,” fellow junior Derick Ouellette said. “We teach them what we know so they can get better and help us on the court.”

In Saturday’s record-setting performance, the youngsters let Worster set the tone as he scored 14 points in the first quarter. After that, they kept feeding him the ball.

“The young guys know, ‘Get out of the way, he’s feelin’ it,’ ” Forest Hills coach Anthony Amero said.

There are few secrets in small communities like Jackman and Moose River, from which Forest Hills Consolidated School draws its enrollment of 54 students. Like many of his successful predecessors, Worster thrives in the basketball crazy town that is also a destination for many of the state’s snowmobilers. “The whole town surrounds the team and supports them going to the tournament,” Worster said. “It’s us against them.”

Worster, who topped 1,000 career points late this season, has also earned all-conference honors in baseball and golf.

“He’s a very good pitcher,” baseball coach and basketball assistant Mike LeBlanc said.

Worster is even more successful in the classroom where he takes college level courses and earns straight As. He also scored over 1,800 (out of 2,400) on his SAT, including a 700 (out of 800) on the math portion.

“He’s a great kid, a class act,” Amero said. “We’ve got a great young team. He’s a good person for these guys to look up to.”

Worster averaged 24.8 points a game this season, and he scored in the high 30s a couple of times. Saturday, he was simply an opportunist taking advantage of a mismatch he had in the low post. On other occasions he’ll play both inside and out, depending on what the defense gives him.

“He’s a very unselfish player,” LeBlanc said. “He doesn’t look for any accolades from anything. He just plays hard every play.”

Gary Hawkins — 621-5638

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