AUGUSTA — Basketball players growing up in Jackman spend hours on the court at Armand Pomerleau Park, taking shot after shot, and making shot after shot. They do that knowing that the shots taken in front of nobody get them ready for the shots they’ll take in front of thousands of fans at the Augusta Civic Center.

“We love to shoot. Finding that open spot, getting your hands ready,” Forest Hills senior Hunter Cuddy said, smiling just thinking about letting a 3-pointer fly.

Saturday afternoon, Forest Hills set a Class D state championship game record 11 3-pointers in a 69-53 win over Machias. It was the second straight Gold Ball won by the Tigers, and the second consecutive undefeated season. Forest Hills’ winning streak now stands at 44 games.

Cuddy tied the Class D championship game record with five 3-pointers. Cuddy (16 points), Mason Desjardins (18 points) and Parker Desjardins (31 points)  carried the Tigers offensively, accounting for 65 of the team’s 69 points.

Parker Desjardins, a junior guard, broke the school’s career scoring mark with 1,564 points. Desjardins broke Evan Worster’s mark of 1,555 with a layup with 4:51 left in the game. That came during a stretch in which Desjardins scored the first 16 points of the fourth quarter for the Tigers.

Entering the game, neither Desjardins nor his coach, Anthony Amero, knew how well Desjardins would play after being in bed sick for three days this week. Desjardins didn’t feel close to 100 percent, but he took over the game in the second half, scoring 22 of his 31 points.

“I knew I didn’t do much the first half of the game, so I had to step it up. Mason and Hunter really stepped it up in the first half, so it was my time to shine, and I took control,” Desjardins said.

“I had a hard time shooting (in the first half), so I had to drive. They spread out their defense to pressure us, so the drive was open.”

Desjardins said he wasn’t thinking about the scoring record during the game. His mind was on adding another Gold Ball to the school’s collection. Saturday’s win gave the Tigers their third title since 2013.

“I just wanted to win the Gold Ball. That’s all I cared about. We’ve got four for the school, counting the girls from 1997. It’s awesome,” Desjardins said.

Added Amero: “(Desjardins has) got no quit. I thought Hunter and Mason came to play as well. In the first half, they really got it going, then Parker sealed the deal. Good team effort.”

Amero tweaked his team’s 1-3-1 zone, moving 6-foot-3 Jackman Daigle to the top, putting a big body in the way of the Bulldogs’ perimeter shooters. Amero recalled how his team struggled from long distance in its first game at Bangor’s Cross Insurance Center in the 2015 state final, and figured Machias may have a similar problem in its first game at the Augusta Civic Center.

“That was a lesson for me. I thought, boy, if we get into a state championship on this court, let’s try and reverse that. Say we’ll give you that shot. I got a little nervous. They hit a couple in the first half,” Amero said.

Machias led for 43 seconds early in the game, after Kash Feeney hit a 3-pointer in the first minute. Parker Desjardins tied it with a 3 soon after, and Mason Desjardins hit the first of his two first-quarter 3-pointers with 4:05 left in the first, giving the Tigers a lead they’d never surrender.

Forest Hills led by as many as 15 points in the second quarter, sinking wide-open looks against a 2-3 zone defense.

“It was all about tempo today. We started off the game, we really wanted to push the tempo and make them play our game. We really wanted to jack 3s in the first half and see if we can draw them out a little bit and get to the basket in the second half,” Cuddy, who made three of his five 3-pointers in the first quarter, said. “I love it when they’re in a 2-3 zone. It leaves a lot of gaps. Give them props, they recovered really well, but we had a really good shooting first half.”

The Bulldogs cut their deficit to 32-24 at halftime and trimmed the Tigers’ lead to 32-28 when Kash Feeney sank a layup with 6:42 left in the third. Forest Hills answered, pushing the lead back to nine, and after Machias got within five points, the Tigers pulled away for good. Cuddy hit a 3-pointer with four seconds left in the third to push the lead back to double digits, 49-38, and Parker Desjardins took over in the fourth.

Machias had foul trouble in the second half, with point guard Jayden Rhodes picking up his fourth with 39 seconds left in the third, and Ethan Foss, the Tigers’ leading scorer in the Class D North tournament, picking up his fourth with 13 seconds left in the third. Foss fouled out with 2:03 left, finishing with seven points.

Kash Feeney led Machias with 16 points, while Shane Feeney added 12.

“We couldn’t get into our offense in the second quarter. We’re young. We got a little bit away from what we wanted to do,” Machias Coach Jim Getchell said.

“They’re a great basketball team. There’s no question about that.”

Another key, Getchell said, was Forest Hills’ advantage on the boards. The Tigers had 43 rebounds to 33 for Machias, often limiting the Bulldogs to one shot at the offensive end. Joey Poulin had 11 rebounds for the Tigers before fouling out with 3:59 to play.

“We shoot from so far out, how do you practice those long rebounds?” Amero said. When (Poulin) fouled out, we all thought, “uh oh”, because Joey’s been owning it in a big way today.”

“We just kept our composure. We didn’t get worried at all. Joey did a great job controlling the boards. I tried to get in there as much as possible,” said Parker Desjardins, who had 12 rebounds.

Amero felt his team’s conditioning was also a factor in the second half.

“We always talk about making runs and our conditioning. Realistically, if it wasn’t for Parker having a nose bleed, we wouldn’t have taken a timeout,” Amero said. “We like to get up and go. We’re conditioned to go the long haul. We try to get conditioned for five quarters.”

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