Media Archive

Penquis boys ready for tournament

Article from The Piscataquis Observer, Vol. 166, No. 5, February 04, 2004

By Ben Bragdon
Staff Writer

Patriots use defense, transition to beat PCHS 65-39, secure play off spot

MILO The Penquis boys basketball team came into Saturday night's game determined to avenge an earlier loss to PCHS, and they found their fans willing to shake the rafters if it meant a Patriot win.

With the crowd creating an atmosphere almost as suffocating as the home team's defense, Penquis jumped out to a 20-6 first quarter lead, shutting down the deadly Pirate shooters who sniped the Patriots 61-38 on Jan. 19 and creating havoc up and down the floor on the way to a 65-39 win with serious playoff implications.

' "We came to play," said Penquis ' coach Tony Hamlin after watching his team come out with a fire and determination absent in the game in Guilford just a couple of weeks ago.

'The crowd was definitely into it," said guard Jordan Allen, whose defensive play started more than a few Patriot fast breaks. "We came out with a lot of intensity at the defensive end. That was the difference."

The Patriots came out the gate playing a 2-3 zone, with Allen and Devin Perkins on the low wings, cutting hard out to the comers to cover Pirate long-range threats Mike Wharff and Joe Jardine.

At worst, the Patriots forced PCHS to catch the ball well behind the three-point arc, out of harm's way. More than not. Allen or Perkins would be in the player's face before the ball reached his hands, and they would often get a hand on the ball, initiating the Penquis transition game that got the crowd rolling and starting the rout.

"Our zone is pretty tough," said Allen. "We deflected a lot of passes that way."

Leading 5-3 as the first quarter approached its halfway point. Allen made the second of his five steals, starting a break that ended with a Perkins lay-up and a 7-3 advantage.

Moments later, center Nick Youiig, taking as he did all night full advantage his size, pulled in an offensive rebound and was fouled. The inbounds went to Allen in the comer, who nailed down the three-pointer while taking a foul. A free throw later and Penquis was up 11-3, forcing PCHS coach Jamie Russell to take a timeout.

Out of the timeout. Young struck again to make it 13-3. The big center was a presence all night, taking the
edge provided by the Pirates' lack of a true low post player. His rebounding helped Penquis run out to a lead,
and his second-half defense altered plenty a Pirate shot.

"He was a difference in the game," said Hamlin.

A few possessions later, Perkins took an inbounds pass underneath, scored and was fouled.

Following the successful foul shot. Drew Hamlin and Justin Allen combined to cause a steal in the Pirate front court. The ball came to Hamlin, who fed Allen for the easy lay-in and a 18-3 lead, forcing another PCHS timeout and sending the crowd into a bleacher-shaking frenzy.

"This is a tough place to play," said coach Hamlin. "We are tough to beat here with the crowd behind us."

Excited by the home fans, the Patriots were anxious in the second quarter, running the game at a tempo that was a little quick for Hamlin, who called a timeout to tell his team to "take some air out of this thing".

The fast pace led to some defensive lapses, and the Pirate shooters were able to get a few solid looks at the basket. Wharff and Ryan Yeo and both got free for three-pointers, and Penquis could not extend its lead, going into the locker room up 30-15.

At the half, Hamlin told his team to be smart and patient, knowing a 15-point lead is not insurmountable for a potent team like PCHS.

"A 15-point game can get to eight points before you know it," he said afterward.

The Allens and Drew Hamlin help settle the Patriots in the second half, and Penquis continued to hit the boards. Justin Allen hit a three-pointer at the 5:50 mark in the third quarter to give his team a 37-17 lead, and Perkins followed that up with an offensive rebound that led to a foul and two successful free throws.

Seconds later, Perkins got the ball after a Pirate turnover and fed Justin Allen for a lay-up and a 41-17 lead.
A PCHS timeout followed, and Penquis had the game well in hand.

After suffering through a tough spell in the middle of January that included blow-out losses at Dexter and at PCHS, the Patriots have rebounded to beat high-ranked teams Hermon, Steams and now PCHS, a streak that will puts them at 12-4 and maybe as high as third in Eastern Maine Class C, meaning they will get a bye in the tournament and head to the Bangor Auditorium without having to play a first round game.

Justin Allen led Penquis with 21 points. Perkins had 20 points to go with nine rebounds.

Wharff and Yeo each had seven points to lead the Pirates, who fell to 10-7.

NOTE - This article reflects the views of the author and not necessarily those of the TRC Alliance Team.