AUGUSTA — Basketball players growing up in Jackman spend hours on the court at Armand Pomearleau Park, taking shot after shot, and making shot after shot. They do that knowing that that shots taken in front of nobody at Pomerleau get them ready for the shots in front of thousands of tournament fans at the Augusta Civic Center.

“We love to shoot. Finding that open spot, getting your hands ready,” Forest Hills senior Hunter Cuddy said, smiling just thinking about letting a 3-pointer fly.

Saturday afternoon at the Augusta Civic Center, Forest Hills made a Class D state championship game record 11 threes in a 69-53 win over Machias. It was the second straight gold ball won by the Tigers, and the second straight undefeated season. Forest Hills’ win streak now stands at 44 games.

Cuddy tied the Class D state championship game record with five 3-pointers. Cuddy (16 points), Mason Desjardins (18 points) and Parker Desjardins (31 points)  carried the Tigers offensively, accounting for 65 of the team’s 69 points.

Parker Desjardins, a junior guard, set the new Forest Hills career scoring mark with 1,564 points. Desjardins broke Evan Worster’s mark of 1,555 with a layup with 4:51 left in the game. That came in the middle of a stretch which saw Desjardins scored the first 16 points of the fourth quarter for the Tigers. Entering the game, neither Desjardins nor his coach Anthony Amero knew how well Desjardins would play after being in bed sick for three days this week.

Desjardins didn’t feel close to 100 percent, but he took over the game in the second half, scoring 22 of his 31 points after the break.

“I knew I didn’t do much the first half of the game, so I had to step it up. Mason and Hunter really stepped it up in the first half, so it was my time to shine, and I took control,” Desjardins said. “I had a hard time shooting (in the first half), so I had to drive. They spread out their defense to pressure us, so the drive was open.”

After the game, Desjardins said he wasn’t thinking of the scoring record. His mind was on adding another gold ball to the school’s collection. Saturday’s win gave the Tigers their fourth boys basketball title since 2013.

“I just wanted to win the gold ball. That’s all I cared about. We’ve got four for the school, counting the girls from 1997, It’s awesome,” Desjardins said.

Added Amero: “(Desjardins has) got no quit. I thought Hunter and Mason came to play as well. In the first half they really got it going, then Parker sealed the deal. Good team effort.”

Amero tweaked his team’s 1-3-1 zone, moving 6-foot-3 Jackman Daigle to the top, putting a big body in the way of the Bulldogs’ perimeter shooters. Amero recalled how his team struggled from long distance in its first game at the Bangor’s Cross Insurance Center in the 2015 state game, and figured playing in its first game in Augusta, Machias may struggle to find its shot, too.

“That was a lesson for me. I thought, boy, if we get into a state championship on this court, let’s try and reverse that. Say we’ll give you that shot. I got a little nervous. They hit a couple in the first half,” Amero said.

Machias led for 43 seconds early in the game, after Kash Feeney hit a three in the first minute. Parker Desjardins tied it with a three soon after, and Mason Desjardins hit the first of his two first quarter threes with 4:05 left in the first, giving the Tigers a lead they’d never surrender.

Forest Hills led by as many as 15 points in the second quarter, sinking wide open looks against Machias’ 2-3 zone defense.

“It was all about tempo today. We started off the game, we really wanted to push the tempo and make them play our game. We really wanted to jack threes in the first half and see if we can draw them out a little bit and get to the basket in the second half,” Cuddy, who made three of his five 3-pointers in the first quarter, said. “I love it when they’re in a 2-3 zone. It leaves a lot of gaps. Give them props, they recovered really well, but we had a really good shooting first half.”

The Bulldogs rallied to cut their deficit to eight points at the half, 32-24, and trimmed the Tigers lead to 32-28 when Kash Feeney sank a layup with 6:42 left in the third. Forest Hills answered, pushing the lead back to nine, and while Machias got within five points, the Tigers pulled away. Cuddy hit a three with four seconds left in the third to push the lead back t double digits, 49-38, and Parker Desjardins took over in the fourth.

Machias had foul trouble in the second half, with point guard Jayden Rhodes picking up his fourth with 39 seconds left in the third, and Ethan Foss, their leading scorer in the Class D North tournament, picking up his fourth with 13 seconds left in the third. Foss fouled out with 2:03 left in the game with seven points.

“We couldn’t get into our offense in the second quarter. We’re young. We got a little bit away from what we wanted to do,” Machias coach Jim Getchell said. “They’re a great basketball team. There’s no question about that.”

Another key, Getchell said, was Forest Hills’ advantage on the boards. The Tigers had 43 rebounds to Machias’ 33, often limiting the Bulldogs to one shot at the offensive end on a possession. Joey Poulin had 11 boards for the Tigers before fouling out with 3:59 to play.

“We shoot from so far out, how do you practice those long rebounds?” Amero said. When (Poulin) fouled out, we all thought uh oh, because Joey’s been owning it in a big way today.”

“We just kept our composure. We didn’t get worried at all. Joey did a great job controlling the boards. I tried to get in there as much as possible,” Parker Desjardins, who had 12 boards, said.

Amero felt his team’s conditioning was also a factor in the second half.

“We always talk about making runs and our conditioning. Realistically, if it wasn’t for Parker having a nose bleed, we wouldn’t have taken a timeout,” Amero said. “We like to get up and go. We’re conditioned to go the long haul. We try to get conditioned for five quarters.”

Kash Feeney led Machias with 16 points, while Shane Feeney added 12 points.

 

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM

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