SACO — What do you do when you’re not running your offense as well as you could, but the shots are falling?
You go with it. Marshwood did, and the momentum is extending the Hawks’ season.
Senior guard Jack Letellier hit three early 3-pointers to put the Hawks out front, and then they hung on for a 48-47 victory over Thornton Academy in a thrilling Western Class A boys’ basketball prelim Tuesday night at Liddell Gymnasium.
Marshwood (8-11), the No. 12 seed, moves to the regional quarterfinals at 7 p.m. Friday against No. 4 Deering at the Portland Expo. No. 5-seed Thornton Academy, which had won five straight and 8 of 9 to end the regular season, finished at 12-6.
“We didn’t execute real well, but we shot real well, which was key,” said Marshwood Coach Mike Zamarchi. “We got out to the early lead, guys hit some big outside shots. We made shots when we had to, especially when our two big guys fouled out. It was a gutsy win.”
After Thornton Academy took a 5-2 lead, the Hawks hit four straight 3-pointers in a 14-4 run to close the first quarter with a 16-9 lead. Letellier led the early surge, hitting three straight 3-pointers to bridge the first and second quarters.
“I was just wide open, stepped up and knocked them down,” Letellier said. “Drew Bartlett (eight points) had a couple great kick outs; I was open and didn’t hesitate. I usually do.”
The Trojans never fully recovered.
The Hawks’ physical 2-3 zone was designed to slow the Trojans’ stars, Quinn Richardson-Newton (17 points) and Kevin Barrett (17 points). Brady Innes, Zach Mitchell and Baili Lontine-Kearson kept close eye on them.
“We knew they were their go-to guys, and they like to pound inside,” said Innes. “We wanted to sag off those guys and make them come to us. The defensive effort was there. Our offense wasn’t up to par.”
And Thornton Academy very nearly made them pay for it. The Trojans outscored the Hawks 11-10 in the second quarter to cut Marshwood’s lead to 26-20 at the half. They then held a 16-12 edge in the third to trim the Hawks’ edge to 38-36.
“We’ve been in a lot of close games, I think we lost five or six by one or two points,” Letellier said. “It’s a testament to the guys’ effort in practice, learning from our mistakes. It got a little rough at the end, but we came up here and took care of business.”
With the Hawks playing without big men Innes and Lontine-Kearson (seven points) and intent on stopping Richardson-Newton and Barrett, Corey Hart got loose and scored the last of six straight points with a drive to tie it at 45 with 1:40 to play. Marshwood regained the lead 47-45 when Bartlett (eight points) scored from the baseline with 35 seconds to go. Ryan O’Neil made 1 of 2 free throws with 15.6 seconds left before Richardson-Newton closed out the scoring.
“It feels great, we can’t wait to get back to the Expo,” Innes said. “We’re ready to go.”