BANGOR – Incredibly, the Caribou boys basketball team had to do it again.

Somehow, despite a seven-point lead with less than a minute to play in regulation, the Vikings had to sweat it out again. Go to double overtime again. Survive a battle of guts and guile again.

And they did. Sawyer Deprey scored on an assist from his brother, Parker, in the closing seconds of the second overtime at the Cross Insurance Center, and Caribou defeated Maranacook 73-71 to win its second straight Class B title.

The Vikings had the Gold Ball wrapped up. Then they seemed to lose it. Then, finally, they had it. For keeps.

Did they ever worry? Maybe when they saw a 60-53 lead vanish over the last 40 seconds of regulation? Or when they were trailing 70-68 and without the ball with 30 seconds to go in the second overtime?

“Absolutely not,” coach Kyle Corrigan said. “The game’s not over until the final horn blows, and we know that.”

He was right. Parker Deprey blocked a Tim Worster attempt as Maranacook tried to push the lead to four in the final minute of the second overtime, then converted a three-point play down at the other end to put Caribou ahead 71-70 with 17.8 seconds left. Maranacook tied the game when Cash McClure — a force all night who finished with 33 points, including the 1,000th of his career — went to the free throw line with 5.9 seconds left and hit the first of two tries to knot the score at 71.

After a timeout, Parker Deprey got the inbounds pass and dribbled up the right sideline, eventually flipping a pass through defenders and over to his brother Sawyer, who was coming from the opposite side and calmly laid the ball in as time expired.

“(I thought) ‘Oh my God, he’s going to pass it,’ ” said Sawyer Deprey, who had 22 points. “I knew I could slow that down, because I had enough time on the clock where I could actually take a breath and jump and take that layup.”

The Caribou fans, loud all game, erupted. It was time to celebrate again.

“During the interviews after our last one, the Northern Maine (final), I said that last year’s going to be tough to beat,” said Parker Deprey, who had 15 points in the victory. “But I have to say, this beats it. Going out on top feels incredible.”

The victory felt different. The year felt different. Caribou was something of a secret last season, overshadowed by an undefeated Hermon team and unproven on the big stage.

And then the Vikings beat Hermon. And beat Cape Elizabeth in double overtime for the Class B title. And had the core of their team coming back. And all of a sudden, ready or not, Caribou was the team to beat.

“We felt a huge target, actually,” Parker Deprey said. “A lot of local pressure, too. A lot of people coming up to us and saying ‘We can’t wait, we’ve already booked our hotels for the state tournament and state championship.’ … It was stressful, but we got through it.”

Caribou didn’t appear fazed by the stress. The Vikings rolled through their schedule, validating those prognosticators that had hyped them as the new giant in the class.

But it wasn’t easy.

“Everybody was giving us their best shot,” guard Alex Bouchard said. “We just wanted to work hard. That was our biggest thing, from the beginning of the year. We knew we had to work hard to compete.”

Corrigan made sure his team stayed focused on meeting that nightly challenge.

“We don’t ever talk about (the Gold Ball). We never talked about another one,” Corrigan said. “I’m so proud of these guys. They battled all year. They had a target on their backs and they handled it well.”

Friday night was no exception. Caribou was rolling, up 32-20 after a 12-0 second-quarter run, but Maranacook stormed back with six third-quarter 3-pointers to cut the gap to three points at 47-44. The Vikings then seemed to put the Black Bears away when a Bouchard basket pushed the lead to seven with 1:13 to play, but a pair of McClure free throws, a McClure three and two clutch free throws from Worster forced overtime.

Caribou’s Alex Bouchard takes a shot as Maranacook’s Joseph Dupont defends during the Class B state championship game Friday night at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor. Morning Sentinel photo by Michael G. Seamans

“We were deflated, I’m not going to lie,” Corrigan said. “But I didn’t say a whole lot to them. I said ‘Listen, get your heads up. We’re all right.’ These guys, it just takes them a couple of seconds and they’re good to go.”

They stayed that way, even through the first overtime, when Maranacook had a 63-62 lead on a Casey Cormier three with two minutes left. And even through the second, when the Black Bears seemed to be closing in on checkmate.

“This is all a blur. I’m going to bed tonight and not even remember any of this,” Corrigan said. “Wake up in the morning and see a Gold Ball in my room. Unreal.”

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