After helping Poland upset Greely for the Western Class B boys’ basketball title Saturday, guard Tyler Michaud was asked if the Knights were a team of destiny.
“I don’t know,” said Michaud. “I guess you could call it that.”
There can only be one team of destiny and Old Town, Poland’s Eastern Maine opponent in Friday night’s Class B state final, took a similiar road to the title game.
Poland (13-8) and Old Town (17-5) will meet at 8:45 p.m. at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor.
Both teams came from the sixth seed to win regional titles. They got hot late in the regular season and carried it through the tournament. Poland has won seven straight games; Old Town has won nine.
After a slow start to the season, things started to come together for the Knights when they defeated Cape Elizabeth, then added wins against Wells, Lake Region and Gray-New Gloucester to end the regular season.
In the tournament, the Knights knocked off the top three seeds – No. 3 Spruce Mountain, No. 2 Morse and the No. 1 Rangers.
“Some called it unbelievable that we won the tournament,” said Michaud. “It wasn’t unbelievable to us. We felt coming into the tournament we had a pretty good chance. During summer ball we knew we could do some damage in the tournament.”
The Knights were 2-4 in December.
“Our schedule was very difficult at the beginning of the year,” said Coach Tyler Tracy.
“We had high expectations for ourselves, and we got punched in the mouth early and we let it affect us. We kind of went into a downward slide. It took a few games to get our confidence back and playing at a level we knew we were capable of. That came in the Cape game. We’ve been a completely different team since. It took us a while to get there but we got it.”
Now it’s on to Bangor and an opportunity to capture a Gold Ball.
Tracy and the seniors on the roster started together in the program four years ago.
“This senior class is very special,” said Tracy. “I remember that first practice. Three of the seniors were on the varsity as freshmen. They’ve established a culture here that we’re proud of.”
Caleb Martin, one of the seniors who made the varsity as a freshman (Josh Gary and Billy Bickford are the others), has been the go-to player for the team.
He scored 26 points in the come-from-behind 63-59 victory against Greely and was named the winner of the Pierre Harnois Award as the top player-sportsman in the Western Class B tournament.
“When he gets in his zone, it’s pretty hard to stop him,” said Michaud.
Said Martin: “I’ve benefited from a lot of great teammates. We’re a well-balanced team.”
The Knights got their first look at the Cross Insurance Center with a two-hour practice Tuesday.
The new building replaced the Bangor Auditorium, which held its last tournament games a year ago before being razed.
“Coach Tracy grew up going to and playing games at the Bangor Auditorium,” said Martin.
Tracy played in high school for Piscataquis Community in Guilford.
“It’s kind of a homecoming for him,” said Martin.
“He’s the reason we’re playing for the state championship. He’s brought this program from something that hadn’t made the playoffs much to one that’s playing for a state championship.”
Tom Chard can be reached at 791-6419 or at: