Askar Houssein made the most of his first game on the Cross Insurance Arena floor, and thanks in large part to his superb performance, the Deering boys’ basketball team is headed to the Class AA North final.

And Class AA will have a new state champion.

Behind Houssein’s 29 points, including a long 3-pointer that put his team ahead to stay midway through the fourth quarter, third-seeded Deering earned a 57-51 win over No. 2 Bangor in a regional semifinal Wednesday afternoon.

Deering (15-5) advanced to the regional final for the first time since 2016 and will face either Edward Little or Windham on Saturday afternoon.

“(Bangor) beat us twice this year and that motivated us,” said Houssein, who also had 10 rebounds, three assists and two steals. “I felt like we were the underdog and we felt like everyone was against us.”

Bangor, the 2019 state champion, drained three 3-pointers in the first quarter but only led 13-12, as Houssein scored 10 points, including a pair of 3s.

Houssein continued to be Deering’s only source of offense in the second quarter.

After Bangor held Deering scoreless for more than six minutes and extended its lead to eight on a dunk by Henry Westrich, Houssein drove for a layup. Then, after a Westrich free throw, a long Houssein 3-pointer cut the deficit to 21-17 at the half.

Deering made its move in the third quarter, as Houssein started the second half with a three-point play, then set up Mpore Semuhoza for a go-ahead 3-pointer. Bangor answered to lead by five, but Deering responded again, as two 3-pointers from Darryl Germain and a putback from Jesse Kamalandua produced a 37-33 advantage heading to the fourth quarter.

Bangor went back on top, 40-39, on two free throws from Max Clark with 3:56 to play, but 18 seconds later, Houssein drained an NBA-range 3-pointer to put Deering ahead for good.

“Boy, doesn’t (Askar) get cooking sometimes?” said Deering Coach Todd Wing. “Sometimes as a coach you have to simplify. I don’t have to be a genius coach to just let my best player play.”

Houssein added a foul shot, then Germain sank two free throws followed by a 3-pointer from the corner that made it 48-40 with 2:23 remaining.

“Luckily my guy (Askar) found me open and I knocked down the shot,” said Germain, who had 11 points.

Bangor got as close as 50-47, but Houssein hit two free throws, then set up Semuhoza for a layup as Deering closed it out.

“I’m very proud,” said Wing. “We didn’t come here to win one game. We talked about how once you get here, anything can happen. It’s a beautiful thing.”

Bangor (16-4) got 11 points from Westrich, but couldn’t generate easy points inside like it did during its two regular-season wins over Deering.

“(Deering) really brought the intensity to us today,” said Westrich. “Props to them.”

“They shot the ball really well and we didn’t, and that’s what it came down to,” said Bangor Coach Brad Libby.


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