SOUTH BERWICK — Ryan Camire scored his 1,000th point on a 25-foot three-pointer that gave Sanford High its first lead of the game.
But it was his ability to hit ordinary free throws under extraordinary pressure that was the real difference.
Camire drained four straight free throws in one-and-one situations in the final 36 seconds — both times pushing the Spartans’ advantage to three points — and No. 9 Sanford edged No. 8 Marshwood, 52-49, in Tuesday’s raucous Western Class A preliminary round game.
“I’ve practiced and done that so many times, just simulated that through your head, you’ve just got to trust yourself that you’re going to make it,” Camire said. “All the repetition you do over the years just carries over. It’s instinct. It just happens.”
The free throws kept Marshwood (9-10) at bay and when Alex McLean’s leaning 3-pointer at the buzzer hopped high off the back iron and out, Sanford (11-8) had advanced to Friday night’s Western Class A quarterfinal against No. 1 South Portland.
Camire finished with a game-high 17 points. His 3-pointer that put the Spartans ahead 37-36 with 1:18 left in the third quarter was a 25-foot bomb that pushed his career scoring total to 1,002 points. The game was briefly stopped to acknowledge the achievement.
“Some people might look at that and say, ‘What’s he doing shooting that?’ ” Sanford Coach Paul Nolette said. “Well, he’s got a little bit of a track record.”
It was the sixth time in the past two years Sanford and Marshwood have hooked up. Each game has come down to the final pivotal plays. Last season Marshwood won the prelim.
The Hawks carried most of the play through the first half, building a 9-point lead in the opening quarter and then re-establishing an 8-point margin midway through the second.
To that point, Marshwood had put the clamps on Camire with Brady Dodge (11 points) and Jack Letellier the primary points in a gritty man-to-man defense. Camire had torched Marshwood for 26 and 31 points in the two regular-season meetings.
Marshwood’s offense was limited, though, when inside threat Brady Innes (team-high 14 points) picked up his third foul late in the second quarter and then his fourth just 23 seconds into the third quarter.
“That killed us,” Marshwood Coach Mike Zamarchi said. “That really hurt us. Our game plan was to go inside to him because they can’t cover him with one guy. So we had to go away from our game plan.”
Sanford held Marshwood to four points in the third quarter and led 41-36 entering the fourth, thanks to a buzzer-beating shot by reserve Malik Romero.
Marshwood tied the game 46-46 on one of two free throws by Alex McLean with 3:43 left, but Sanford’s Alex Shain (9 points), a factor inside, snared a rebound for an offensive put-back to give Sanford the lead for good with 1:54 left.
NOTES: Sanford’s top forward off the bench, junior Josh Schroder was diagnosed with a concussion earlier on Tuesday and was unable to make the trip, Nolette said.
Staff Writer Steve Craig can be contacted at 791-6413 or at: [email protected]