Sunday, December 8, 2013
By Tom Chard email@example.com
BANGOR — Hello, Eastern Maine.
Christian Henry, left, joins the Yarmough High captains – from left: Chris Knaub, Sam Torres and Josh Britten – as they raise the Gold Ball following the 65-53 victory against Gardiner in the Class B state championship game at the Bangor Auditorium.
Photos by John Ewing/Staff Photographer
Sam Torres, who scored nine points for Yarmouth, keeps his focus on the basket while taking a shot during the 65-53 victory against Gardiner in the Class B final at the Bangor Auditorium.
Meet Josh Britten.
Britten scored 29 points, 22 in the first half, and his Yarmouth teammates came through in flying colors to give the school its first state basketball title since 1968 with a dominating 65-53 win over Gardiner in the Class B final Friday night at the Bangor Auditorium.
Britten, a 6-foot-1 senior guard, was unstoppable at times. He scored the first nine points for the Clippers (18-4) and when he wasn't scorching the Tigers, players like Chris Knaub, Sam Torres and Christian Henry chimed in.
Gardiner (19-3) used four different players on Britten, to no avail. Hitting long shots, driving and pulling up for jumpers or driving for layups, Britten was in a zone.
Yarmouth hadn't played in a state basketball final since 1973, a loss to Sumner in Class C.
"A lot of teams in other sports have won state titles in Yarmouth," said Coach Adam Smith. "It's great to get into the conversation with those other teams. The Yarmouth fans have wanted an exciting, winning basketball team. Josh carried us in the first half and Chris Knaub came through in the second."
Leading 35-30 at halftime, Yarmouth outscored Gardiner 15-4 in the third quarter to take a commanding lead to the fourth.
Gardiner, sparked by Aaron Toman, then made a run, cutting its deficit to 52-44. Toman scored the first seven points for the Tigers.
Then Knaub answered, and it was loud and clear. He hit a 3-pointer while being fouled. He missed the free throw but Yarmouth was back to an 11-point lead.
"You could see Gardiner's head and shoulders sag after that," said Smith. "Chris' shot took the life out of them."
The Clippers got their first look at the Bangor Auditorium in an early afternoon practice. Britten said he liked the place right away.
"It's the Mecca of high school basketball in the state," he said. "I love the shooting background. To win a state championship here is really special.
"We got off to a fast start and never looked back. I wanted to put the team on my back and play a full 32 minutes. We knew we needed a complete effort from our core players and we got it."
Britten nearly got his wish to play the full distance. Except for two early fouls, he might have.
Britten got his second foul with 3:43 left in the first quarter. The Clippers had a nine-point lead when he left. The Tigers made it 15-15 on a basket by Toman, who finished with a team-high 26 points.
The Clippers led 18-15 after one quarter, but Gardiner then scored the first five points of the second.
Yarmouth won it in the third. Toman scored to open the fourth but Britten responded with a 3-pointer. Knaub then scored to make it 40-32, forcing a Tigers timeout.
Yarmouth, known for its defense all season, clamped it on at that point. The Clippers forced numerous turnovers to throttle the Tigers.
"Our defense really stepped up and got in the passing lanes," said Smith.
Knaub, the hero of the Western Maine final with a career-high 26 points, scored all of his 14 points over the last three quarters. Torres added nine.
Staff Writer Tom Chard can be contacted at 791-6419 or at:
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David Murphy of Yarmouth takes the ball to the basket for a layup while trying to evade Tyler Jamison of Gardiner.