Thursday, December 5, 2013
By Travis Lazarczyk firstname.lastname@example.org
Derick Ouellette is not as big as you may think he is. The way he plays the low post, the Forest Hills High School senior doesn’t have to be 6-foot-5. He doesn’t even have to be his listed height of 6-1.
Staff file photo by Joe Phelan Forest Hills' senior Derick Ouellette is a big reason the Tigers will play in their second straight Class D state championship game on Saturday.
at Cumberland Country Civic Center, Portland
Class B girls: Presque Isle vs. Lake Region, 7 p.m.
Class B boys: Medomak vs. Falmouth, 8:45 p.m.
at Augusta Civic Center
Class A girls: Bangor vs. McAuley, 4 p.m.
Class A boys: Hampden vs. South Portland, 7 p.m.
at Bangor Auditorium
Class D girls: Washburn vs. Richmond, 1 p.m.
Class D boys: Central Aroostook vs. Forest Hills, 2:45 p.m.
Class C girls: Calais vs. Waynflete, 7 p.m.
Class C boys: Penquis vs. Boothbay, 8:45 p.m.
“We list him at 6-1, but he’s 5-10 1/2 on a good day,” Forest Hills coach Anthony Amero said.
Ouellette plays bigger than he is, and during the Western Class D tournament, he was the best player on the court for the Tigers. Ouellette averaged 20 points per game in the regional, winning tournament MVP honors. His steady play in the paint is a big reason Forest Hills repeated as Western Maine Class D champion.
The Tigers play Central Aroostook of Mars Hill at 2:45 p.m. Saturday at the Bangor Auditorium in the Class D championship game.
“Derick’s been consistent. He’s been banging the glass,” Evan Worster, Forest Hills’ Mr. Basketball semifinalist, said. “When defenses collapse on Brandon (Ouellette), me, or Matt (Turner), Derick hits the open shots.”
Ouellette scored a career-high 32 points in the Tigers’ semifinal win over A.R. Gould. He followed that with a 19 point, 10 rebound effort against rival Valley in the regional final.
“You don’t know who’s going to be the top scorer on our team,” Derick Ouellette said. “Teams put a lot more attention on Evan, since he had such a good season.”
Ouellette, a two-year starter, credits his improvement to practice time against some of the big alumni who regularly practice against the Tigers. Ouellette goes up against big players like former Forest Hills stars Bob Manix and Dylan McNally so often, that when he routinely faces a bigger opponent, Ouellette is ready.
“It starts with his work ethic in practice,” Amero said. “Derick’s not that big, to do what he does in the paint. He’s as tough as they come. He fears no one.”
When Ouellette joined the Tigers as a sophomore, he was a 5-9 guard. As he grew and hit the weight room, Amero decided Ouellette’s value to the team would come with the inside game. Ouellette worked at it, and after averaging 11 points and 12.5 rebounds per game in the regular season, he had his breakout games in the regional tournament.
“I can pound the inside. I’ve become a better post player,” Ouellette said. “Against Valley (in the regional final), I knew I had to crash the glass, because they’re such a good rebounding team.”
“Derick spent a lot of time in the weight room. He took care of his body,” Amero said. “He can move to his left. He can move to his right. He can hit the short-range jumper if he has to.”
Normally, Ouellette doesn’t have to. In his 32 point game against A.R. Gould, most of his baskets were made within five feet of the hoop. In the regional final Saturday, after Valley cut a big Forest Hills lead to one point with just over six minutes to play, Ouellette scored eight consecutive points for the Tigers to help them pull away.
Ouellette plans on continuing his basketball career next year at Central Maine Community College. For now, he has one more game to play for the Tigers.
“He’s a two-year starter,” Amero said, “and he’s twice as good as he was last year.”
Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242