AUGUSTA — Derick Ouellette of Forest Hills blends into the crowd pretty quickly once a basketball game is over. He’s shorter than his listed height of 6-foot-1, and his glasses add to his anonymity.
But Ouellette stands out on the court. Saturday, he was the difference-maker in a 40-33 victory against rival Valley for the Western Class D championship at the Augusta Civic Center.
Ouellette dominated the fourth quarter, scoring all nine of his team’s points and grabbing seven rebounds. He finished with 19 points and 10 rebounds, and was named the tournament’s outstanding player.
“He has been, for the last two years, just a kid that’s kind of the unsung hero,” said Coach Anthony Amero, who recorded his 200th career win. “He’s a blue-collar, hard-working kid. He does all those little things that put us over the top.”
The victory put the top-seeded Tigers (19-2) into the Class D state championship game for the second straight year. They’ll face Eastern Maine champion Central Aroostook next Saturday at the Bangor Auditorium. Third-seeded Valley finished at 17-4.
Valley trailed 31-20 midway through the third quarter but rallied behind Carrington Miller, who scored 10 of his 18 points over the next four minutes.
His 3-pointer from the left side gave the Cavaliers a 32-31 lead with just over six minutes to play.
Ouellette responded with eight straight points, including a couple layups and a three-point play in the paint to put the Tigers up 39-33 with 56 seconds left. On the three-point play, the officials conferred before ruling the foul a block instead of a charge.
“I thought the big call was the block-charge call in the fourth quarter,” Valley Coach Wade Morrill said. “It’s a three-point game and we’ve got plenty of time. Jordan’s (Gillespie) very quick. I thought it was a charge. The officials conferred and thought it was a block. That was a big basket.”
Valley achieved one of its goals by taking away the offense of Evan Worster, who was defended by Josh West and finished with four points. The Tigers, likewise, tried to take away Miller by sticking pesky guard Brandon Ouellette on him.
“I knew they were going to be all over me,” Worster said. “My whole plan was to try to set everyone up. They stayed glued to me the whole game. That was fine because Derick was inside working his butt off.”
The Tigers lived in the paint, getting key baskets early from Ryan Petrin (11 points) and Matt Turner.
“They have five guys you have to defend,” Morrill said.
The 6-3 Worster defended Gillespie, Valley’s 5-5 point guard, but sagged off him and helped out in the paint.
“That was our trick defense,” Worster said. “We played that at home when we beat them by 23.”
The Cavaliers committed 12 turnovers in the first quarter, many against a full-court zone press, and fell behind 19-11.
“We outscored them 22-21 the rest of the way,” Morrill said.
“That’s kind of our Achilles heel all year. There are moments when you have to slow down and think, and execute a little bit better. We just try to go fast.”