AUGUSTA — Forest Hills junior forward Evan Worster climbed six steps up the wooden latter, graciously accepted a pair of scissors and began cutting down a net inside a buzzing Augusta Civic Center.

Worster then twirled the twine in his right hand, much to the delight of the Forest Hills faithful who made the 112-mile trek from Jackman hoping to witness history Saturday.

And witness history they did.

Worster scored 33 points and broke the overall Western Class D tournament scoring record, and the second-seeded Tigers nipped top-seeded Hyde 61-60 in dramatic fashion to win their first regional championship.

“It’s unreal,” said Worster, who turned the Civic Center into his personal playground this week. “It’s just … unbelievable.”

Worster scored 106 points in three games, eclipsing the previous Western Class D tournament record of 96 set by Buckfield’s Paul Bessey in 1968.

Forest Hills (18-3) will play Jonesport-Beals in the state final Saturday at Augusta.

The Tigers trailed Hyde (17-2) by 19 points with 2:28 left in the third quarter before they electrified the Civic Center crowd with a stirring comeback.

Forest Hills outscored Hyde 38-18 after trailing 42-23 late in the third.

“It’s surreal,” Forest Hills Coach Anthony Amero said. “The run we’ve had is just, wow. I’m so proud of my guys.

“We didn’t want to be down more than 10 or 15 in the game. It was our goal going into the game, so we were a little worried. But there was just no quit in them.”

Added Forest Hills guard Derick Ouellette, who scored seven points and forced several key turnovers in the fourth quarter: “I guess there was a little bit of concern, but we never gave up. There was a little bit of doubt, but we just kept going, kept going.”

The teams were tied at 57 with about a minute left before Ouellette grabbed a rebound off a Jonah Alexander miss and pushed the ball up the court.

The Tigers fed the ball in the paint to Worster, who banked in a shot for a 59-57 lead with 31.5 seconds left.

Hyde had a chance to answer, but Warsame Mohamed missed a baseline drive. Worster grabbed the rebound and was fouled.

“I knew when he went to the line to ice it, I knew he would make them,” Amero said. “I knew, I knew, I knew he wouldn’t miss them.”

Worster calmly sank both free throws to put the Tigers up 61-57 with 7.9 seconds left.

“Those foul shots, there was a lot of pressure,” said Worster, who also had eight rebounds.

Hyde’s Tyquan Ekejiuba hit a 3-pointer as time expired.

The final buzzer touched off a raucous celebration.

“It was unbelievable,” Worster said. “I felt like doing laps around the Civic Center for hours.”

“I had a permanent grin and it wouldn’t go away,” said Ouellette. “It was crazy.”

The Tigers slowly climbed back in the game with an 11-3 run to close the third quarter. Worster capped the run by banking in a deep 3-pointer at the buzzer to make it 45-36.

“I think the Worster deep 3, a lucky 3 off the backboard, that basically is the difference,” Hyde Coach Peter Rowe said. “It seemed like Forest Hills got a lot of lucky breaks.”

The momentum carried over into the fourth quarter, although the Tigers still trailed 53-44 with just under six minutes left.

But they closed the game on a 17-7 run. Worster scored 14 points in the fourth quarter, including 12 in that final run.

“The buzzer-beater at end of third was a big momentum shifter for sure,” Worster said. “It feels like everything I shoot is going in. I’m super confident going into state game. They made a few big mistakes down the stretch that helped us out.”

“You could feel it,” said Ouellette. “Everything started to go our way.”

Ekejiuba scored 15 points and Alexander added 12 to lead the Phoenix, who had 13 of their 19 turnovers in the second half.

Forest Hills made 21 of its 29 free-throw attempts. Hyde was 3 of 5 at the line.

“Sometimes, the basketball gods don’t smile upon you,” Rowe said. “Forest Hills played hard. They are a scrappy team (and) should feel proud.

“It’s too bad it wasn’t double elimination.”

Bill Stewart — 621-5640
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