BOX SCORE

North Yarmouth Academy 54 Richmond 37

R- 10 8 12 7- 37
NYA- 10 13 14 17- 54

R- Gilpatric 5-2-12, Densmore 5-0-10, Bing 3-1-8, Gardner 2-0-5, Alexander 0-2-2

NYA- King 15-3-34, Hamblett 4-6-14, Poulin 2-0-4, Bernier 1-0-2

3-pointers:
R (2) Bing, Gardner 1
NYA (1) King 1

Turnovers:
R- 13
NYA- 7

FTs
R: 5-13
NYA: 9-16

AUGUSTA—The only thing slowing Te’Andre King Monday evening was King himself.

And he only momentarily stalled one of the finest efforts in the postseason history of the North Yarmouth Academy boys’ basketball program.

King, a senior standout who already holds the Panthers’ all-time scoring record, led his fourth-ranked squad to an impressive win over fifth-seeded Richmond at the Augusta Civic Center and he and his teammates aren’t done yet.

NYA, which suffered an frustrating loss at Richmond last month, got eight first quarter points from King, but the game was deadlocked, 10-10.

King then put the Panthers ahead to stay with a breakaway dunk and NYA went up by nine before King picked up his third foul with 1:58 remaining in the half and Richmond crept back within five, 23-18, at the break.

King returned to action with a vengeance to start the second half, scoring eight quick points to help the Panthers go up, 33-18, but again, the Bobcats refused to buckle and drew within seven, 37-30, heading to the fourth period.

There, NYA saved its best for last and closed strong behind King’s dominance and the steady floor play of junior captain Chris Hamblett as it went on to a 54-37 victory.

King had a game for the ages, 34 points and 14 rebounds, and Hamblett added 14 points as the Panthers improved to 15-4, ended the Bobcats’ season at 12-8 and in the process, advanced to set up a semifinal round date versus No. 1 Winthrop (18-1) Thursday at 8:30 p.m., in Augusta.

“It’s a beautiful experience,” King said. “I got here freshman year, then I wanted to get here sophomore and junior years because once you get here one time, you can’t stop thinking about it.”

In the mix

NYA qualified for the tournament for the fifth time in seven years and this winter, the Panthers posted their finest record since 2004-05, as they won 14 of 18 games, losing only to Traip Academy, Waynflete, Old Orchard Beach and Richmond, who all made the Class C South playoff field, and locked up the No. 4 seed to avoid a preliminary round game.

Richmond, meanwhile, won 11 games, then eliminated No. 12 St. Dom’s, 70-55, in Wednesday’s preliminary round.

The Bobcats took the lone regular season meeting, 58-49, Jan. 22 in Richmond. Senior Kenny Bing went off for 23 points and junior Calob Densmore added 19 to lead the way and help negate 16 points from Hamblett and 14 from King.

Rest assured, NYA took that loss from heart and learned from it.

“It was very nice to get another shot at (Richmond),” Hamblett said. “Our defense wasn’t as aggressive last time. We’ve worked on that and we’ve had a seven-game win streak since then.”

“That loss meant a lot to us,” King said. “We thought we had it and they came out and punched us in the face and we didn’t have a response. After that game, everything just heightened for us.”

“We were motivated by the loss we had at Richmond,” added Panthers’ coach Jason Knight. “It wasn’t a good one and it poked the bear for us. We haven’t lost since and we’ve been pretty fired up.”

The teams met twice before in the playoffs, but those games came over 20 years ago. In the 1995 Western D quarterfinals, the Bobcats won, 70-65, and in the 1998 Western D quarterfinals, the Panthers returned the favor, 63-55.

Monday, NYA led nearly throughout and won a quarterfinal for the second time in four years.

King set the tone with a bank shot just 11 seconds in.

After senior Dakotah Gilpatric pulled Richmond even with a leaner, King hit a jump shot, but a Densmore putback tied it again, 4-4.

King scored his third basket, on a leaner, but Gilpatric’s old-fashioned three-point play (putback, foul, free throw) gave the Bobcats their only lead of the game.

It lasted all of 24 seconds, as sophomore Bryce Bernier’s putback put the Panthers in the lead and King added a short jumper for his seventh and eighth points of the quarter.

“I was trying to just go with the flow at the start,” King said. “I was feeling it and just took it one shot at a time.”

Richmond would answer, as sophomore Cole Alexander hit a free throw and off an inbounds set, senior Ben Gardner set up Densmore for a layup which made it 10-10 after one period.

King would score eight more points in the second quarter, but along the way, he got in foul trouble.

Just 36 seconds into the new quarter, King grabbed a loose ball, saw a seam and raced past the Richmond defense en route to a resounding dunk, which gave the Panthers the lead for good.

“I’m thinking, ‘I’m going, I have to dunk it,'” said King. “That was a big momentum-builder. The guys and the fans felt more electric after that.”

King added a putback, Hamblett drove for a layup and his first points and with 3:49 to go in the half, a long King jumper put NYA ahead, 18-10.

Gilpatric made a free throw for the Bobcats (after King got his second foul), ending a 6-minute, 10-second drought and the Panthers’ 8-0 run, but King got a pull-up jumper to roll in at the other end.

Then, with 1:58 left before halftime, King was whistled for a foul on Alexander (his third) and Alexander made one free throw.

With King on the bench, Richmond had the edge the rest of the half.

After a Hamblett foul shot, Bing hit a runner for the Bobcats, his first points, then Gilpatric scored on a leaner. After Hamblett got a floater to bounce in, a leaner from Densmore pulled Richmond within 23-18 at the half.

King had 16 points and five rebounds in the first 16 minutes, but his availability was going to determine the Panthers’ fortunes in the second half.

King came back to the game and instead of playing timidly, he returned to his prolific scoring ways and helped NYA get some breathing room.

Just 28 seconds into the second half, Hamblett went coast-to-coast for a layup.

King then took over, scoring eight points in 71 seconds, scoring on a putback, converting a three-point play, then sinking a 3 with 5:50 left in the frame, to extend the lead to 33-18.

Out of a timeout, the Bobcats bounced back.

First Gilpatric scored on a putback, ending the 10-0 run. Then, Bing sank a long 3 to cut the deficit to 10.

After King banked home a long shot, Densmore scored on a leaner, then Densmore pulled up and hit a jump shot to make it 35-27.

Hamblett answered with two free throws, but Bing sank a foul shot, then Alexander set up Gardner for a layup to pull Richmond within seven, 37-30, heading for the fourth period.

There, NYA finally ended all doubt.

A putback from sophomore Bryce Poulin and a Hamblett leaner opened the fourth period for the Panthers.

After Gilpatric hit a leaner in the lane, King made one free throw.

With 4:49 remaining, Bing hit a runner in the lane to make it 42-34, but that’s as close as the Bobcats would get.

First, King scored on a putback in traffic. King then drove for a layup and he added a free throw.

With 3:06 to play, Hamblett was fouled and a technical foul was called on the play, giving Hamblett four free throws. He sank three and King drove for a layup and a 52-34 advantage.

Richmond’s final points came on a 3-pointer from Gardner, then King set up Poulin for a layup to bring the curtain down on the Panthers’ 54-37 victory.

“We keep the stressing the mentality of playing 32 minutes,” said Knight. “We’ve had one game all years where we’ve played a full 32 minutes. It’s nice to be back here. It’s been a lean couple years.”

King, who now has 1,534 career points, scored eight points in the first, second and fourth periods and tallied 10 in the third. He also had 14 rebounds and blocked two shots and never picked up a fourth foul.

“I knew I couldn’t afford another foul and I thought I played good defense,” King said.

“Three years ago, (Te’Andre) had three fouls and had to sit and he came back and played a great game,” said Knight. “He’s had four years of maturity and growth. He’s a great athlete and basketball player who plays the game the right way.”

“We expect Te’Andre to go off for us,” Hamblett said. “He’s special.”

“Te’Andre was pretty motivated to get back here,” Knight added. “I’m not surprised by his effort tonight. I’d be lying though if I said I thought he’d come out this hot. He’s increased his scoring average since the Richmond loss. He was clearly ready to play tonight. He’s got great body control. He’s obviously strong and he has agility. He’s used to double- and triple-teams. When he gets that mid-range game going, it’s a tough defensive matchup. He’s worked on that all season.”

Hamblett was a huge contributor as well with 14 points, five rebounds and a pair of steals.

“I’ve worked a lot on improving my game since freshman, sophomore year,” Hamblett said. “I looked at it that it might have been my last game at the Civic Center, so I had to give all I had.”

“Chris has been great as a captain,” King said. “He’s a great second option for us and a great first option some games. He’s improved so much.”

“We try to get Chris in transition early,” Knight added. “When he going up the floor, he finds his spots. We wanted the ball in his hands. He’s a very athletic guard who can finish at the rim. He hit some free throws at the end. Between Te’Andre’s physicality and Chris’ agility and quickness, it’s a great 1-2 punch.”

Poulin had four points and seven rebounds and Bernier added two points and six rebounds. Sophomore Elliott Oney didn’t score, but had four steals.

NYA enjoyed a 41-39 rebounding advantage, made 9-of-16 free throws and took terrific care of the ball, only turning it over on seven occasions.

Richmond’s top scorer was Gilpatric, who had 12 points, to go with five rebounds. Densmore added 10 points and seven rebounds, Bing had eight points and 12 rebounds, Gardner finished with five points and four rebounds and Alexander contributed two points and five rebounds.

The Bobcats made just 5-of-13 free throws and turned the ball over 13 times.

Winthrop looms

Next up for NYA is a Winthrop squad that won the region a year ago and appears capable of playing for a title again.

The Panthers don’t see the Ramblers in the regular season. In the teams’ lone prior playoff meeting, Winthrop prevailed, 52-29, in the 2017 semifinals.

“We’ll go out there, keep practicing and get ready for the game,” Hamblett said. “We’re having a lot of fun.”

“We just have to continue to play how we’ve been playing,” said King. “We’ve been in competitive games, so if we stay calm, I think we’ll be fine.”

“The goal every year is to get to Augusta, then not be satisfied to get here,” Knight added. “As a smaller school, sometimes we get underestimated a little bit.

“Winthrop will be tough. Winthrop is tall, long and they get after you defensively. We have to possess the ball with great efficiency. They have a great inside-out game. We have to be very disciplined.”

Michael Hoffer can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter: @foresports.

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