AUGUSTA — Nick Mayo’s nose for the hoop was too much for sixth-seeded Oxford Hills on Saturday. It had Messalonskee feeling a little uncomfortable for an agonizing few minutes in the fourth quarter, too.

Mayo dominated the paint, dropping 31 points to go with 14 rebounds in No. 3 Messalonskee’s 58-42 win over Oxford Hills in the Eastern A quarterfinals at the Augusta Civic Center.

With Messalonskee leading 43-34 early in the fourth quarter, the Division I Eastern Kentucky-bound senior had a scary moment, falling over teammate Taylor Turner after tipping in Turner’s layup attempt. Turner himself had fallen along the baseline, and there was nothing Mayo could do to avoid him after the putback.

Mayo pounded the court and stayed on the floor for a time while a trainer attended to him. He walked gingerly to the Messalonskee locker room with what coach Pete McLaughlin later termed a “tweak” to his left ankle. A few minutes later, he jogged out to a big ovation from Eagles fans, and almost immediately re-entered the game with the Eagles leading by 13.

“It feels fine. I’m just going to ice it and treat it,” Mayo said after the game.

The Eagles (14-5) face No. 2 Hampden Academy in the semifinals at 7 p.m. on Wednesday.

Mayo scored 19 points in the first half as Messalonskee built a 28-18 lead. Most of those points came in the paint, including three baskets in a 10-0 run that put the Eagles up by 14 late in the second quarter.

“My teammates knew that I was ready to go and they were just passing me the ball. I kept scoring,” Mayo said.

“We didn’t execute our game plan,” Oxford Hills coach Scott Graffam said. “We let him catch the ball in the post. We were supposed to front him any time he left the high post area. Everybody complains about fouls being called, but when you’re playing right behind a 6-foot-8 kid, you’re going to foul.”

The Vikings started feeling even more helpless after Mayo hit back-to-back 3-pointers early in the third quarter, including one that he banked in from the top of the key as the Eagles extended their lead to 37-20.

“I was definitely not expecting to bank that in but I’ll take it. Points are points,” Mayo said.

Oxford Hills (10-9) scored the last 10 points of the quarter to cut the deficit to single digits, 43-34.

Any chance the Vikings had to whittle more off the deficit disappeared after they were assessed a technical foul while Mayo was in the locker room. Trevor Gettig hit both free throws and Turner (11 points) made one of two from the line to make it 48-34 and essentially put the game out of reach.

“Getting (Mayo going) early gets everybody jazzed up and gets the heart beating a little bit,” McLaughlin said. “Once we started to get in the flow, it was the exact style of game that we wanted to play.”

That style included harassing Oxford Hills star Andrew Fleming at the defensive end, a task that fell mostly to junior forward Jack Bernatchez. He limited Fleming to four points in the first half and 12 for the game.

“Jack Bernatchez is kind of the person that nobody ever hears about,” McLaughlin said. “He’s probably our best defender. Mayo gets the big blocks and the big rebounds, but Jack is really the guy that we put on the best player on their team.”

Tyus Ripley added 10 points for Oxford Hills.

Randy Whitehouse — 621-5638

[email protected]

Twitter: @RAWmaterial33


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

Kennebec Journal & Morning Sentinel news

Get news and events from your towns in your inbox every Friday.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.