AUGUSTA — With 33 seconds left in the game, Matt Alley lined up on the key, looked over his right shoulder, caught somebody’s eye, and smiled. He was still smiling as Forest Hills’ Evan Worster took his foul shots, and Alley was still smiling 15 minutes later, only now he had a gold ball tucked under his arm and a net draped over his neck.

“My family was in the section right there, and they were smiling right back, just as hard as they could,” Alley, a Jonesport-Beals High School senior, said. “It was a really good moment, to know how happy all of us were.”

Alley scored a game-high 26 points, including the 1,000th point of his career, leading Jonesport-Beals (19-2) to an 83-45 win over Forest Hills and the Class D state championship. It was the first state title since 1993 for the Royals, and 10th overall.

“We’re in an elite club, finally. We’ve been waiting a long time. I don’t know if I’d rank us up with the best, (Jonesport-Beals teams) because there were some loaded teams, but I think we have a pretty good group here, and I’d play just about anybody with them,” Alley said.

Forest Hills finished the season at 18-4. Coach Anthony Amero had nothing but praise for the Royals.

“I’ve been in (Class) D 15 years, and that’s one the best D teams I’ve seen,” Amero said. “Bigger, faster, stronger. There’s not much we can do in those situations.”

Jonesport-Beals led 32-18 at the half, and put the game away in the third quarter. Forest Hills committed 26 turnovers, many caused by the Royals’ constant pressure. After Evan Worster, Forest Hills’ top scorer, scored eight points in the first quarter, and Garet Beal got into foul trouble, Jonesport-Beals coach Gordon Faulkingham changed up the Royals’ defense, focusing on keeping the ball out of Worster’s hands.

“The Worster kid was quicker than I thought, and Garet got into foul trouble, so I had to switch up,”  Faulkingham said. “We started picking the tempo up, and it changed the game. I told them we had to rotate through and take the pass away from the middle.”

The Royals opened the third quarter with an 11-4 run, pushing the lead past 20 points, 43-22. Alley scored nine points in the third, including his 1,000th, which came with 6:43 to play.

“I’m proud of myself, but I’m a lot more proud of our team and what we did today,” Alley said.

Despite limited minutes because of his foul trouble, Beal scored 16 points and grabbed 10 rebounds. Justin Alley and Leon Smith each scored 10 points for the Royals, who had points from 11 players.

“Who’s going to score next? We knew that going in, they have five guys who can put 20 up on you. A tough, tough team to match up against,” Amero said.

Worster finished with 16 points for the Tigers, while Derick Ouellette scored 10. Forest Hills doesn’t lose anybody to graduation, and Amero expects to return all eight of this season’s players next season.

“We’re honored just to get this far this year. As I told the kids, you got a taste of it. You’ve got to get back in the gym. You’ve got to get lifting and work hard, because it’s not going to be automatically hey, since we’re all back, we’re going to the finals. Everybody is going to work hard,” Amero said.

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242
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