AUGUSTA — Once the Eastern Class A boys’ basketball tournament started, Lawrence Coach Mike McGee knew each game could be his last. The longtime coach of the Bulldogs announced earlier this season that he’s retiring after 28 seasons as head coach.
As the final seconds ticked away in Lawrence’s semifinal game against Edward Little, McGee raised his arms in victory, knowing that with his team’s 49-41 win, he’d have at least one more game.
The win was the 350th of McGee’s career. The No. 3 Bulldogs (16-4) will face No. 1 Hampden Academy in the regional championship game at 8:45 p.m. Friday at the Augusta Civic Center.
Edward Little ends the season 17-3.
“I tell the kids, ‘I’ve been where you want to go,’ ” McGee said. “This is a special group. I told them, ‘I’ve been there. I want to take you there.’ “
Ahead 34-32 with just under six minutes to play, Lawrence went on an 11-2 run to take control. Mason Travers, who scored a team-high 14 points, made an uncontested layup with 3:11 remaining, giving the Bulldogs a 45-34 lead. Travers looked surprised to find his way to the rim completely unguarded.
“I was going to dish it back off to Spencer (Carey) because I thought the guy was going to come back on me but he didn’t,” Travers said.
Lawrence led 17-15 after a slow-paced first half, but then the Bulldogs took advantage of an Edward Little defensive switch. The Red Eddies began to apply a full-court press, and that played into the hands of the experienced Bulldogs.
“They went full court and I thought it opened things up for us. We’re a senior-laden team, nine seniors, and we’re a really good passing team. We got some nice open shots,” McGee said.
McGee called the Bulldogs’ defensive effort its best of the season against a quality opponent.
Lawrence played man-to-man throughout. Lew Jensen, who had 20 points in Edward Little’s quarterfinal win over Messalonskee, didn’t score at all against Lawrence. Quin Leary, the Red Eddies’ Mr. Basketball semifinalist, was held to nine points.
“We played our base man and face-guarded (Jensen) so he got no looks. We’ve seen enough of him shooting 3s,” McGee said.
Sean Ford scored 13 points for the Eddies. Both Ford and Leary, Edward Little’s top two players, fouled out.
HAMPDEN ACADEMY 65, LEWISTON 35: Tyler Norris scored 18 points and the top-seeded Broncos (20-0) cruised past the No. 5 Blue Devils (13-7).
EASTERN CLASS A GIRLS
CONY 49, LAWRENCE 37: Josie Lee scored 14 of her 21 points in the second half as the ninth-seeded Rams (14-7) extended their surprising run, beating the fourth-seeded Bulldogs (14-6) to reach the regional final.