PORTLAND — It had been a dozen years since the Maranacook boys basketball team had reached a state championship game. All throughout this season, the Black Bears believed they would be the team to break the streak.

And on Friday, they knew they would be.

Top-seeded Maranacook completed its run through the Class B South tournament, defeating No. 6 Wells 60-48 in the final at the Cross Insurance Arena.

Maranacook will be playing for its first state championship since 2008, and Skyler Boucher, one of two seniors on the team, said the Black Bears had been on a mission all season.

“It’s an unforgettable feeling, for sure,” he said. “Being a senior and (in) the last year, it’s something I dreamed of for all four years, and ever since I was a little boy. To actually win it, there’s nothing like it. Especially with the group of guys we have, it’s a brotherhood.”

Cash McClure led the Black Bears (19-2) with 23 points and 11 rebounds, while Casey Cormier added 16 and Boucher added nine.

“We’ve been dreaming of this since we were six years old,” McClure said. “We’ve been working since we were third-graders for this.”

“They deserve it. They’ve been working hard for a long time,” coach Travis Magnusson said. “We definitely want them to celebrate and enjoy this moment, because it’s special. And this whole next week’s going to be special.”

The tournament was a mini-odyssey for the Black Bears. They got a bad draw with a dangerous eighth seed in Freeport, and had to rally for a 59-57 victory. They then had to face a Lake Region team that beat them earlier in the season, and came away with a 64-40 victory.

And then Friday, they had to face a Wells team that was making its fourth straight regional final appearance, and one that has made a habit of taking down higher seeds, and one that was intent on maintaining the Western Maine Conference’s dominance of the tournament. Before Friday, the last non-WMC member to win the region had been Mountain Valley in 2007.

“It’s a tough run,” Magnusson said. “We respect the Western Maine Conference so much. They’ve owned this for a while.”

On Friday, though, the Black Bears were ready. With McClure leading the way, Maranacook started hot and worked first to an 18-13 lead after one, and then a 31-21 advantage at the half.

“I had to lead my guys to a good start,” said McClure, who had 15 points at the break. “I just wanted to prove myself in this big game.”

When McClure’s scoring slowed in the second half, Cormier took over. He knocked down a 3-pointer with 1:17 left in the third when Wells was building momentum after cutting the deficit to 37-31, and he had a finish in transition in the first minute of the fourth quarter that prompted a Wells timeout with the lead up to 46-34.

On the Black Bears’ next possession after the timeout, Cormier finished with a foul to push the lead to 14 and ignite the Maranacook bench with 6:34 to play.

“I saw that Cash, he was getting guarded pretty tightly,” Cormier said. “I knew that I’d have to be getting myself open and getting my shots up. They started to fall, so I just kept shooting.”

Magnusson praised the Mountain Valley transfer for stepping up in the second half.

“Casey had, probably, one of his best games of the year,” he said. “He’s a big shot guy too, and he knocked it down.”

Wells worked the gap to 50-41 with just over three minutes to go, but Maranacook didn’t let the Warriors get any closer. It was a theme for the game; whenever Wells pushed, Maranacook pushed right back.

“We’ve got to stay tough,” said McClure, who put the game away at the free throw line. “Like our coach said, we’re the best clutch team and we play well in clutch situations. We proved that today.”

Tim Worster, the team’s leading scorer this postseason, had six points and seven rebounds. He was guarded tightly by Wells defensive ace Gavyn Leighton, so with the onus on the rest of the Black Bears to step up, Magnusson’s crew obliged.

“That’s kind of how it is,” Boucher said. “We’re 10-deep at least … and we’re really fortunate to have that. If one of us isn’t having a good night or they’re trying to lock up one of us, we’ve got four others that can make it happen.”

And now they have one more game left to win.

“We’re going to get a great team, whoever we’re playing,” Magnusson said. “But we’ll be ready.”

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