NAPLES — Class B will have a new state champion in boys’ basketball.
Lake Region, the eighth seed, had three chances in the final 10 seconds to extend its title defense into overtime Tuesday night but came up short against No. 9 Gray-New Gloucester.
Four times in the fourth quarter the Patriots saw their lead shrink to one, but they never fell behind and came away with a 57-54 victory in a B South prelim.
Gray-New Gloucester (10-9) advances to the regional quarterfinals against No. 1 Yarmouth (16-2) on Saturday at the Portland Expo. Lake Region, which lost 53-48 at home to the Patriots a month ago, finished 9-10.
“To get into the tournament and play this prelim game,” second-year Lake Region coach Paul Mayo said, “that’s a testament to guys who were inexperienced to start with. They’re not inexperienced any more.”
Senior Tyler Walker was the only Laker with significant experience from last year’s championship team. He scored 11 of his game-high 16 points in the first half as Lake Region pulled ahead 28-23, but the Patriots closed on a 9-2 run to take a 32-30 lead at intermission.
Tristen Chaine hit a 3-pointer and converted an offensive rebound early in the third quarter to give the Lakers a five-point lead. Gray-New Gloucester responded with a 13-2 run capped by a pair of 3-pointers from point guard John Martin for a 45-39 lead, the biggest for either team.
“We knew it was two evenly matched teams,” said Patriots Coach Ryan Deschenes. “The biggest thing was keeping them out of the paint. We didn’t do a great job of that but we did a good enough job, especially in the second half.”
Gray-New Gloucester’s balanced offense featured the inside scoring of 6-5 sophomore Hunter Colby (13 points), and the outside shooting of Josiah Rottari (12), John Henry Villanueva (11) and Martin (11).
A baseline buzzer-beater from Mark Mayo pulled Lake Region within 47-46 entering the fourth quarter. It was still a one-point game with a little more than two minutes remaining when Walker sliced through the Patriots’ defense, only to have his shot blocked by Colby.
That led to a 3-point attempt by Rottari, who was fouled and made 2 of 3 free throws for a 55-52 lead. Mayo answered with two of his own after an offensive rebound to make it 55-54 with 58 seconds left.
After a missed front end for Gray-New Gloucester, the Lakers had two chances to go ahead but missed twice from close range and were forced to foul. Rottari drained both ends of his 1-and-1 with 17 seconds left for a 57-54 lead. Deschenes knew a 3-point attempt was coming.
Sure enough, Walker let loose from the right wing. Chaine tracked down the rebound and let fly from the right corner. Jake Kackmeister of Gray-New Gloucester hauled in a contested rebound but was called for traveling, giving Lake Region possession with 2.8 seconds left.
Walker’s attempt from the left wing caught the front rim and sent the Patriots to a celebratory scrum at midcourt.
“We forced some tough shots,” Deschenes said. “They got three looks but they were three tough looks.”
The Patriots lost twice to Yarmouth in the regular season, by 20 points in early December and 19 in late January.