AUGUSTA — For the first time in six years, the Lawrence boys basketball team has advanced to a regional semifinal.

The fourth-seeded Bulldogs recovered from a sluggish start and then held off a late rally from No. 5 Erskine, posting a 53-38 win over the Eagles in a Class A North quarterfinal Saturday night at the Augusta Civic Center. Senior Nick Robertson scored 23 points, as Lawrence advanced to meet the winner of Saturday’s late game between No. 1 Cony and No. 8 Medomak Valley in the regional semifinals Wednesday night.

“It feels pretty good,” Robertson said. “We’re looking to write our own history and maybe get something up on the banner at school.”

It is the first time Lawrence (11-8) has reached the semifinal round of the tournament since 2013. That year, the Bulldogs played in the regional final against Hampden.

Erskine (12-7), which led by as many as 10 points in the first quarter, closed to within five points on Braden Soule’s 3-pointer with 2:07 remaining but could get no closer.

Kobe Nadeau added 13 points in the win, including four free throws in the final 63 seconds of the fourth quarter to help cinch it. It was more then enough to hold an Erskine team that managed only four third-quarter points at bay.

Lawrence players celebrate at midcourt after beating Erskine Academy in a Class A North quarterfinal on Saturday at the Augusta Civic Center. Staff photo by Joe Phelan

“The guys just stuck with it and stuck with what we needed to do in order to win,” Lawrence coach Jason Pellerin said.

It was a tale of two quarters in the first half.

Erskine fired out of the starting gate behind Caden Turcotte, making six of its first nine field goal attempts en route to a 16-4 run that gave the Eagles a 16-6 lead with 3:05 remaining in the first quarter. Turcotte scored 11 points, all in the first quarter.

But then Erskine managed just one more hoop the remainder of the first half — a stretch of 10:55 — while missing 12 of its final 13 attempts before halftime.

Erskine’s Gavin Blanchard, left, and Lawrence’s Gavin Herrin battle for the ball after tip off during a Class A North quarterfinal game Saturday at the Augusta Civic Center. Kennebec Journal photo by Joe Phelan

“We knew (Turcotte) could get hot, and he got hot,” Pellerin said. “We just had to weather the storm and get back to our focus. … What we focused on was getting stops, and once we got stops that’s how we were able to get back in.”

By the time Austin Dunn hit a 3-pointer from the right wing corner with 1:32 left in the third quarter, Erskine had endured a stretch of 17 minutes, 33 seconds — more than half the game — when it made just one field goal attempt.

“We couldn’t make shots,” Erskine coach Tim Bonsant said. “I don’t know what our shooting chart was in the second half, but we were like 1 for 9 in the paint. You’ve got to put the ball in.”

Meanwhile, Lawrence found its game at both ends of the floor.

Robertson’s 3-pointer as the buzzer sounded to end the first quarter touched off a 16-2 run for the Bulldogs that didn’t let up until Nadeau connected on a short jumper to give Lawrence a 22-18 lead with 2:47 to play in the half.

Lawrence coach Jason Pellerin, left, and the Bulldogs bench celebrate a basket late in the Class A North quarterfinal they won over Erskine Academy on Saturday at the Augusta Civic Center. Staff photo by Joe Phelan

“I think that one got us back into it, both offensively and defensively,” Robertson said.”We stick together as a team and we do really well staying positive. We just keep fighting, that’s what we’ve done all year, and it worked out tonight.”

Lawrence took its first lead — 20-18 —when Robertson made a 3-pointer with 3:50 to play in the second period.

Robertson wasn’t done finishing off the Eagles with buzzer-beaters.

In the final minute of the third quarter, Seth Savage’s three-point play pulled Erskine to within six, 32-26, when Robertson answered with a fadeaway trey from off the right wing as the buzzer sounded — again.

“Usually in practice, it doesn’t go in,” Robertson said. “(Pellerin) always tells me, ‘I don’t know why you practice it.’ I told him one of them is going to go in, and tonight I got it.”

Travis Barrett — 621-5621

[email protected]

Twitter: @TBarrettGWC


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