BANGOR – Penquis Valley built a lead with its 3-point shooting, then its patient offense and intense defense took over Saturday night.
In the end the Patriots defeated Boothbay 61-54 to capture the Class C boys’ basketball state championship in the final game at the historic Bangor Auditorium.
Isaiah Bess led the Patriots (20-1) with 27 points. Trevor Lyford added 20.
“They had two players that were hard for us to stop,” Boothbay Coach I.J. Pinkham said. “And we weren’t able to run our offense half as effective as we wanted. They played the best defense we’ve seen all year.”
Boothbay (19-2) was led by Andrew Hallinan (16 points) and Anthony DiMauro (15).
It was the first state title for Penquis since a 58-45 victory against Boothbay in 2000.
Penquis took almost four minutes for its first basket but was just showing off its patience.
When Lyford popped a 3-pointer with 4:25 left in the first quarter, Penquis trailed only 5-3.
Then the 3s kept coming.
Bess hit two 3-pointers in the quarter, sandwiched around one from Cody Herbest. The Patriots led 13-9 after the first quarter without scoring a 2-point basket.
Boothbay tried its running game but Penquis got back on defense. In the halfcourt, the Patriots used a tough man-to-man.
Herbest and Bess began the second quarter with 3-pointers and Derrick Johnson hit an inside jumper for a 21-9 lead.
Evan Hepburn scored a couple inside jumpers to help Boothbay stay close.
Penquis, which loves a slow-paced game, went into a stall twice in the second quarter and led 25-17 at halftime.
Penquis began its second-half scoring with, of all things, a fast break. Bess hit a jumper for a 27-17 lead.
With the 10-point advantage, the Patriots could go as slow as they wanted. Boothbay needed to force the action. The Seawolves upped their defense but fouls followed. Penquis Valley was already in the bonus with 4:44 left in the third quarter.
No matter the pressure, the Seahawks had trouble containing Bess. Early in the third quarter, he bolted to the basket for a dunk.
Bess also recorded assists as the Patriots moved the ball well.
DiMauro scored two straight baskets on a drive and a fast break to cut the deficit to 40-31 after three quarters.
In the fourth, the Seahawks’ defense created some chances, and they worked the ball inside better.
John Hepburn scored inside, and then on a fast break. When DiMauro put back a rebound, Boothbay had closed to 48-44 with 4:28 left.
With 1:10 remaining, Hallinan drained a 3-pointer to make it 54-51.
Boothbay fouled Lyford and he made 1 of 2. Hallinan hit another 3-pointer, and Penquis’ lead was down to 55-54.
Lyford was fouled again and sank them both for a 57-54 lead.
Then came the winning play. Bess stole the ball and raced in for a layup and a 59-54 lead with 27 seconds to go. Lyford clinched the victory with two more free throws.
The Patriots hit seven 3-pointers in the game and 24 of 36 free throws.
Kevin Thomas can be reached at 791-6411 or: