MT. ARARAT’S Jake Demosthenes, above, goes to the basket past Mt. Blue’s Cam Abbott (23) during a KVAC boys high school basketball game at Topsham on Thursday. In the photo at the right, Mason Griffin (44) scores two points. The Eagles improved to 3-1 with a 54-45 victory over the 1-2 Cougars.

MT. ARARAT’S Jake Demosthenes, above, goes to the basket past Mt. Blue’s Cam Abbott (23) during a KVAC boys high school basketball game at Topsham on Thursday. In the photo at the right, Mason Griffin (44) scores two points. The Eagles improved to 3-1 with a 54-45 victory over the 1-2 Cougars.

TOPSHAM

Mt. Ararat High School boys basketball coach Aaron Watson was not happy, and everyone in the gym knew it during a fourth quarter timeout in his team’s Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference matchup with Mt. Blue on Thursday.

 

 

Here is the scene. Eagles guard Shyheim Ulrickson dribbled into the paint, made an unbelievable behind-the-back pass to cutting Mike Crawford, who finished for two points. The Mt. Ararat faithful cheered loudly, and the Eagle players celebrated like it was 1999.

Problem was, Mt. Blue didn’t stop playing, with Cam Abbott quickly nailing a 3-pointer at the other end of the court to draw his team to within six points with 3:04 remaining.

“One of the things our kids do a great job of is they work as hard as they can, and that possession we were not working hard and got caught up in our fans being excited about a nice play, and we just can’t do that,” said Watson, whose tongue-lashing refocused his team en route to a 54-45 victory. “We need to continue to keep the pressure on the other team, and when you don’t take advantage of that, it costs you.”

The Eagles left the court with a 3-1 record and visit Lewiston on Saturday, while Mt. Blue dropped to 1-2.

Doing his thing

Ulrickson did his part, scoring 19 points, picking up four steals and dishing out three assists. He especially enjoyed the first quarter, with both the Cougars and Eagles shooting 50 percent to produce a 17-17 deadlock after eight minutes.

There were eight lead changes and three ties in the exciting first quarter. Mt. Blue freshman Zack Mittelstadt had nine points in the opening frame, including a long trey for a 17-14 Mt. Blue lead.

“We wanted to control the tempo and not fall into what the other team was doing,” said Ulrickson.

“They shot a good percentage, and we shot a high percentage in the first quarter, and the offenses were hitting their shots,” added Watson. “One of the keys was defensive rebounding, and I thought we did a pretty good job doing that. Defensive rebounding wins games.”

Mittelstadt’s 3-pointer were the last points for the visitors over a six-minute stretch as Mt. Ararat switched to a 1-3-1 defense and the Cougars went ice cold, making just one of nine attempts in the quarter and committing six turnovers.

“We were ready for the 1-3-1, but we went cold shooting, had turnovers and they picked up their defense,” said Mt. Blue first-year coach Dave Pepin, whose squad trailed 28-21 at the half. “We only gave up 11 ourselves that quarter, but being outscored 11-4 was the difference in the game.”

The Eagles shot 42 percent (12 of 28) from the floor in the opening half, while the Cougars, after hitting on eight of 16 in the first, finished the half at 37 percent (nine of 24).

In the first three minutes of the third quarter, both teams had trouble finding the target and holding onto the ball. The Eagles missed their first six shots and committed four turnovers, while the Cougars missed five straight and had five miscues. Mt. Ararat’s Mason Griffin finally broke the ice with 4:44 remaining in the frame, and the teams went point for point from there, with the Eagles claiming a 36-29 edge after 24 minutes.

Ulrickson seemed to put Mt. Blue away in the first 38 seconds of the fourth quarter, canning backto back 3-pointers for a 42-29 lead.

“We wanted to get momentum as a team after a slow third quarter, and we worked hard on team defense and did good,” said Ulrickson.

But, Cam Abbott and Kindle Bonsall scored two points each for Mt. Blue, and a free throw by Nate Backus completed a quick 5-0 run to bring the Cougars to within eight points, 42-34.

“We got embarrassed at Messalonskee (a 66-28 loss on Friday), and we had four days of good practice,” said Pepin. “We didn’t come out here to get a moral victory, but they are buying in and playing their guts out. I believe we can knock off some teams down the road.”

After Watson’s “talk,” Griffin answered his coach’s challenge with a hard-working three-point play for a 50-41 edge, and Griffin’s drive in the lane moments later put the Cougars away for good.

Crawford canned two treys for 10 points, with Griffin adding nine points, nine rebounds, three blocked shots and four assists. Jake Demosthenes chipped in eight first-half points and had eight boards as Mt. Ararat finished with a 29-21 rebounding edge.

Mittelstadt paced Mt. Blue with 17 points, with Bonsall adding and Abbott seven points, five rebounds and two blocked shots. Bradley Durrell pulled down a team-high 10 boards.

Mt. Ararat 54, Mt. Blue 45

At Topsham
Mt. Blue— 17 4 8 16 45
Mt. Ararat — 17 11 8 18 54

Mt. Blue — Nate Backus 2-1-5, Cam Abbott 2- 2-7, Kindle Bonsall 3-4-10, Bradley Durrell 2-0- 4, Zack Mittelstadt 7-2-17, Drew Parsons 1-0-2, Colton Lawrence 0-0-0, Devon Hoyt 0-0-0. Totals — 17-9-45. Mt. Ararat — Mike Crawford 4-0-10, Jake Demosthenes 4-0-8, Shyheim Ulrickson 6-3-19, Kevin Carter 3-0-6, Mason Griffin 4-1-9, Jordon Castonguay 0-0-0, Alex LaFountain 0-0-0, Zach Garvey 1-0-2, Avery Desjardins 0-0-0. Totals — 22-4-54. 3-point field goals — (MB) Abbott, Mittelstadt; (MA) Ulrickson 4, Crawford 2. Records — Mt. Ararat 3-1, Mt. Blue 1-2. Up next for Mt. Ararat — Saturday at Lewiston, 5:30 p.m.


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