“It was the battle to see who would be number one at this point,” Coach Dwayne Carter said. “Going into the game Bucksport was only behind us by three points in the Heal Point System. The game was big for both teams.”
Bucksport is now at 11-3, holding firm onto the second spot in the rankings.
Bucksport jumped to a quick lead out front, outscoring the Eagles 11-0 until the last 2:30 seconds of the first quarter when a layup by senior Nick Szwez triggered a seven-point roll for GSA. The Eagles jumped ahead 27-22 in the second quarter, powered by successful shooting by Beckett Slayton and Taylor Schildroth from the three-point line, and stretched its lead to 36-27 in the third.
With Bucksport hanging onto a box-and-one defense, Carter tried to pull them into a man-to-man defense in the fourth.
“[This] would be to our advantage as they could not match up to us inside,” Carter said. When Bucksport chose to stay in the zone, “we just held [the ball] and they did not come out.”
The Eagles kept possession for over all but about 30 seconds in the last four minutes of play.
“Play basketball,” shouted a spectator, as the GSA team swung the ball around the court, before turning it over. Bucksport scored a quick three points, then another two after a foul by GSA.
“We did make some errors and turned the ball over eventually, which is something we need to work on,” Carter said. “It was good to be tested that way…We need the experience going into the final stretch of the season and the playoffs. It was a great test to our team to be down 11-0 at the beginning of the game and really have to focus on defense.”
Max Mattson led the Eagles with eight points, Jarrod Chase, Szwez and Schildroth scored seven, and Slayton six for the win.
The Northern Class C Eagles now stand at 12-0, heading towards the end of the regular season. They travel to Calais (3-5, #16) on Friday, January 15, with their next home game on January 27 against Lee Academy (8-2, #5).
A glance at the Southern Class C standings shows Dirigo at the top of the Heal Point Standings, with a 10-0 record, followed by Winthrop at 9-1. The Eagles can only meet either team in a state final.
In the north, “everyone is bringing their “A” game to us as we are worth a lot of [Heal] points,” Carter said. “We are working hard and not taking anything for granted. The team is focused and ready to do whatever it takes.”