AUGUSTA — Throughout the Class A North tournament, the Messalonskee High School boys basketball team were able to overcome size disadvantages and scoreboard deficits to win their first regional title. Against Greely in the state championship game Saturday afternoon at the Augusta Civic Center, the Rangers simply had too much for the Eagles to overcome.

Mr. Maine Basketball semifinalist Matt McDevitt scored 13 of his game-high 23 points in the first quarter, staking the Rangers to a double digit lead, on the way to a 59-43 win. The win capped an undefeated 22-0 season for Greely and gave the school its first boys basketball state title since it won Class B in 1998. Messalonskee ended the most successful season in program history with a 16-6 record.

“When it came down to it, when we went out, we were ready to play. I think when the game started, we were a little bit in shock, as far as being in this situation. By the time we understand the surroundings and got back to the game plan, (Greely) had huge plays,” Messalonskee coach Peter McLaughlin said. “We lost sight of our principles and what we were doing and what got us here. We talked all week about playing defense, and rotations and taking away things. We didn’t do that today. That’s an unbelievable team over there.”

McDevitt scored his 1,000th career point with a free throw with 6:22 to play in the third quarter. Fouled while attempting a 3-pointer from the left wing, McDevitt went to the line knowing he was one point from the milestone.

“I didn’t really want to know, honestly. I’ve seen people know how many threes they have to hit for a record, and the lid’s on the basket,” McDevitt said. “I got a little antsy thinking about it. I had three (foul shots). That was helpful, knowing I had a couple extra chances if I missed it. I’ve shot a thousand or more free throws. It was good. It was like any other shot.”

McDevitt’s 1,000th point gave the Rangers a 41-14 lead.

“I’ve had conversations with Matt about it, and Matt’s never changed his focus or the way he’s played. He became more of a dengerous player when he became close (to 1,000). He wanted to win a Gold Ball,” Greely coach Travis Seaver said.

Greely led by as many as 34 points in the final minute of the third quarter, and led 56-26 with five and a half minutes to play, before Messalonskee closed the game with a 17-3 run after both teams emptied the bench.

Greely pulled away early, leading 18-7 after one quarter and 36-10 at the half. Defensively, the Rangers did a great job taking Nate Violette, Messalonskee’s leading scorer, our of the game. Violette averaged just under 20 points in the regular season, but had just one in the first half, and didn’t make a field goal until a 3-pointer midway through the third quarter. Junior Shane DeWolfe was strong defending Violette, who finished with six points, throughout the game.

“We tried to make (Violette’s) game difficult. I think Shane’s one of the best defenders in the state, and he stepped up the last couple weeks. He draws the toughest player every night, and Shane did an awesome job on him,” Seaver said.

Greely’s size advantage helped lead to a 31-13 edge in rebounds for the Rangers. Ryan Twitchell had 10 board and 10 points for Greely, while Jordan Bagshaw added 17 points. Messalonskee was hurt by 19 turnovers.

“Any time you do that, you’re not winning a state championship,” McLaughlin said.

Chase Warren and Tucker Charles each scored eight points for Messalonskee. James Kouletsis added seven points for the Eagles.

“I couldn’t be more proud of the guys. First time in school history we’ve been here. It was a great opportunity,” McLaughlin said. “I think those guys are heartbroken because we feel like we didn’t put our best foot forward. I wish we would’ve played a better 32 minutes of basketball.”

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM

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