BANGOR — Once Medomak Valley found room to roam, italso found the basket.
The Panthers passed their wway around Foxcroft Academy’s zone defense and beat the Ponies 53-30 in the Eastern Class B boys’ basketball semifinals Wednesday night at the Bangor Auditorium.
Post players Ryan Ripley (21 points) and John Murray (13) led Medomak Valley.
The top-seeded Panthers (18-2) advanced to Saturday’s regional final at 3:45 p.m. against third-seeded Mount Desert Island (17-3), which toppled No. 2 Presque Isle 51-40 earlier Wednesday.
No. 13 Foxcroft Academy, which got this far with upsets of No. 5 Caribou and No. 4 Oceanside, finished at 10-11.
“We had to be perfect,” Foxcroft Coach Dave Carey said of the upset bid. “I think we got tired and once we were tired, we were a step late.”
Foxcroft stayed close for over 21/2 quarters, tied 10-10 after one and trailing 19-16 at halftime.
Medomak Valley led 24-23 with three minutes left in the third quarter. But then the 6-foot-8 Murray passed inside to 6-5 Ripley for a layup, and the Panthers were in sync.
The Panthers finished the quarter with a 10-2 run and began the fourth with an 8-0 run.
“It took a while getting used to (the zone defense),” said Murray, who had 13 rebounds and five assists. “I love working with Ryan. We both work off each other.”
To that, Panthers Coach Nick DePatsy would say: “finally.” His team couldn’t break away at the start.
“We played into their hands,” DePatsy said. “Coming down, one pass and shoot. We weren’t reversing it.
“Our offense started getting the high-low game going. We got behind the zone. It was all timing. The guards moved the ball. The bigs started playing well together. Just team basketball.”
“Personally, I don’t like a zone,” Ripley said. “But after tonight I feel a lot more comfortable with it. John and I have great chemistry.”
Medomak Valley also did a better job of containing Foxcroft’s energetic guard Ryan Rebar (15 points), who was driving for layups and jumpers. Guards Brandon Soper, Kazu Tibbetts and Jonathan Hendrickson-Belloguet all took turns reining him in.
The Panthers will be vying for their first Class B regional title since 1980, when they went on to win the state championship.
Staff Writer Kevin Thomas can be contacted at 791-6411 or at: