AUGUSTA — Oceanside Coach Matt Breen said he tried to find a silver lining with his team trailing by 10 at halftime of its Class A North boys’ basketball final Friday against Messalonskee.

“In the regular season when we played them, we were down 13 at the half and we came back (to win),” Breen said. “The worrisome part was we just could not get anything to drop. And that continued.”

While fifth-seeded Messalonskee ramped up its game behind senior guard Nate Violette’s 14-point third quarter, No. 3 Oceanside’s starters couldn’t get a single basket. The Eagles rolled to a 61-40 win at the Augusta Civic Center to claim the school’s first boys’ basketball regional title.

“Throughout the week, Coach (Peter McLaughlin) would stop us at practice and have us look at the wall and say, ‘Hey, you know what I hate about this place? There’s no banner up there for boys’ basketball,'” said Violette, who finished with a game-high 21 points. “So there’s going to be one there now.”

Messalonskee (16-5) will return to the ACC for the state final at 2:45 p.m. next Saturday against the winner of Saturday’s South final between Greely (20-0) and defending state champion Falmouth (15-5).

Violette was named the outstanding player of the regional. James Kouletsis contributed 13 points and 12 rebounds, and Griffin Tuttle added 10 points and six rebounds.

Oceanside (17-4), the defending North champion, was in trouble immediately.

Messalonskee raced to a 16-2 lead, with two inside hoops from Cole Wood, 3-pointers by Violette and Griffin Tuttle and a defense that shut down the Mariners’ strong desire to drive into the lane.

With Violette on the bench because he had two fouls, Oceanside trimmed the margin to 24-14 by halftime. The Mariners made frequent trips to the free-throw line and played better interior defense but still struggled offensively, shooting 2 for 15 in the first half.

“There was a time where we missed four out of five foul shots and then we missed a layup in transition,” Breen said. “Those are big plays when you’re struggling, but we just weren’t able to get it going tonight.”

Unlike the regular-season meeting, Oceanside didn’t get rolling in the third quarter, prompting Breen to go with an all-reserve lineup.

“It was just one of those things where we were stagnant and everyone was struggling and you’ve got to try something,” Breen said.

Amos Anderson made the Mariners’ first 3-pointer and fourth basket of the game with 2:02 left in the third quarter.

Jack Lombardo and Trevor Reed (3-pointer) also scored for Oceanside, but the subs couldn’t keep pace with Violette, who made two 3s. The first became a four-point play with a foul shot, and the second beat the buzzer to give Messalonskee a 46-26 lead after three quarters. The lead maxed at 59-31.

Oceanside senior captains Sam Atwood and Nate Raye, the two returning starters from the regional championship team, and starter Michael Norton Jr. were held to seven combined points. Cooper Wirkala led Oceanside with 16 points.

Steve Craig can be reached at 791-6413 or:

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