STANDISH — Difference in style? Absolutely. Difference in quality? Not a lot. Difference in timing? That was all the difference Monday between the Bonny Eagle and South Portland boys’ basketball teams.
South Portland rode its size advantage, rebound specialist Connor MacVane’s clutch free throws and Tanner Hyland’s sense of drama to rally past hot-shooting Bonny Eagle for an 82-77 victory in double overtime in an SMAA matinee game.
“This was a team win,” South Portland Coach Phil Conley said. “I”m really proud of how the kids battled back. It’s a good win for our program, and the kids deserved it.”
The difference in style was obvious. With 6-foot-7 center Jack Tolan (18 points, six rebounds), and 6-5 forwards Jaren Muller (16 and seven), and Ben Burkey (13 and four), the Red Riots (11-2) had a clear edge over Bonny Eagle’s post players 6-4 Kyle Wright, 6-2 CJ Autry (five rebounds) and 6-0 Jon Thomas (four rebounds, one blocked shot).
“Our post game was unbelievable,” Conley said. “Burkey, Tolman and Muller did a great job, as did MacVane with rebounding. We worked at getting the ball inside, where we need to get the ball.”
Not that Bonny Eagle minded shooting from the perimeter.
The Scots (10-3) hit a blistering 15 3-pointers, including seven by Nick Dubay (21 points, eight rebounds) and five by Ben Malloy (18 and five). Dustin Cole led the Scots with 28 points, including two 3’s and 12 of 14 shooting from the line.
And then there was timing. MacVane did yeoman’s work on the boards, pulling in 10 rebounds.
After one field goal in regulation, he went 3 for 7 from the line in overtime. He hit the front end of a 1-and-1 with 35.9 seconds left to send the game into a second overtime, and with 29.3 seconds left in the second OT, he hit two free throws to push the Riots’ lead to 79-74.
“I didn’t want to miss and let them tie or win it on a crazy 3-pointer or something,” MacVane said. “Tanner told me I’d hit them, and I hit them both.”
Actions showed as much confidence as words as Hyland (23 points, five rebounds) hit two buzzer-beating 3-pointers: one at the end of the second quarter to push South Portland’s lead to 36-32, and again as time ran out on regulation, banking a shot off the glass to tie the score at 64. He finished with six 3-pointers.
The Scots got out to a blazing start, scoring all 21 of their first-quarter points from 3-pointers.
Dubay hit his first five attempts and Malloy put in two. South Portland’s big men countered with 12 of the Riots’ 16 points, and the back-and-forth struggle was on.
Hyland started warming up in the second quarter, giving the Riots’ an outside presence with three 3’s.
Cole found his rhythm, scoring nine of the Scots’ 11 second-quarter points. The Scots outscored the Riots 14-9 in the third for a 46-45 lead.
The Riots edged the Scots 19-18 in the fourth to force OT.
Hot shooting early and foul trouble late may have hurt the Scots.
“It’s a concern because you maybe start watching shots instead of attacking the glass,” said Bonny Eagle Coach Phil Bourassa.
“We struggled to get those second-chance shots, and in the long run that hurt us. We were without our top rebounder for the entire eight minutes of overtime.”
“A win like this shows we can play against anyone,” Burkey said. “We can play with big teams, and we can play with small ones. It gives us confidence going into the last five games of the year.”