Tuesday, March 11, 2014
Trailing 29-22 at halftime against Bonny Eagle in the Western Class A boys' final Saturday, South Portland had to get back to the things it does very well.
“I told the kids two things: Stay together as a group, and get the ball inside. If we do that, we’ll get back into this game,” said Conley.
Seven points isn’t a huge deficit, but the way Bonny Eagle attained it stressed to the Red Riots that they would have to turn the tempo around quickly or the Scots could run away because of their explosiveness with Dustin Cole.
Bonny Eagle got its lead by going on a 12-0 run, with Cole accounting for nine of the points.
The Riots responded with an 11-0 run to open the third quarter. They went inside to 6-foot-5 sophomore Jaren Muller. Muller scored three straight baskets, and Vinall Trophy winner Tanner Hyland hit a 3-pointer from the corner to give South Portland a 31-29 lead. Muller added another inside baskets for eight points in the quarter.
“Jaren has a good pair of hands,” said Conley.
Muller has been a dependable scorer all season, and with other big men John Tolan and Ben Burkey, the Riots have a formidable frontcourt.
The fourth quarter turned into a scoring duel between Hyland and Cole. Hyland scored 11 in the quarter, while Cole had 15.
“Ball control was the key once we got the lead,” said Hyland. “They were pressing us. We were hitting our free throws and we played solid defense on Dustin. He’s going to score. You can’t lock him down. You can only slow him and we did a pretty good job."
Hyland finished with 30 points and Cole scored 36.
Conley called South Portland’s first regional title since 1993 “a win for the city of South Portland.
“It’s been a long time for South Portland getting back to a regional championship. I’m happy for the players, the coaches and the school. This win goes out to the city.”
Added Hyland: “The people of South Portland come out and watch us every game.”
Hyland tied a Western Class A tournament record for 3-pointers in a game with seven. That equaled the mark set by Robert Pilsbury of Portland in 1999.
Hyland became the 13th South Portland player to win the Vinall Trophy as the MVP of the Western Class A tournament. Previous winners were Parker Small (1938), James Dubowick (1940), Don Doane (1949), Chris Heal (1958), Ed McAleney (1970), Jim Beattie (1971), Brett Brown (1978), Ken Lynch (1979), Paul Burnell (1980), Steve Gerry (1983), Mike Kendall (1985) and Bert Rich (1993).Tweet
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Tom Chard is a Portland native who has covered high school sports and golf for the Press Herald and Maine Sunday Telegram for 38 years. A three-sport athlete at Deering High, Tom's chief athletic pursuit is chasing the little white ball. He played in his 20th Maine Amateur Golf Championship in July.
Glenn Jordan came to Maine in 1994 to cover the nascent Portland Sea Dogs. After eight baseball seasons and three children – the last two within 18 minutes of each other – he became a part-time writer. Among the sports he covers are now are tennis, skiing, swimming and running. He has a degree in philosophy from Dartmouth, a decent forehand and a penchant for checkers.
Mike Lowe is a Massachusetts native who feels he's lived long enough in Maine (since 1982) to have roots here. He graduated from Boston University and has worked in New Hampshire and Maine, covering everything from the Little League World Series to the Olympics. When he has free time – Ha! – he likes to read, collect comic books and watch the grass grow from his hammock.