PORTLAND — Poor free throw shooting by top-seeded Wells through most of Saturday’s Class B South boys’ basketball quarterfinal kept No. 8 Freeport in the game.
Wells, which had lost to Freeport by 15 points just 11 days earlier, knew it was tempting fate, so it put its fate in t he hands of forwards Tyler Bridge and Cameron Cousins
Bridge scored 13 of his 16 points in the second half to lead Wells to a 52-45 win over Freeport at the Portland Expo on Saturday.
“It always feels nice having the lead, but you always know that it can become a game just as quick and they can come back right away,” Bridge said. “It’s always nerve-wracking right to the end.”
Cousins and Matt Sherburne added 14 points apiece for Wells (13-6), which is the defending regional champion. Gabe Wagner led Freeport (11-9) with 16 points while Toby Holt added 11 points.
The Warriors will face No. 5 Gray-New Gloucester in the semifinals at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday at Cross Insurance Arena.
Cousins helped the Warriors rally from a one-point deficit with 10 points in the fourth quarter. He also had eight rebounds and four assists, most for the benefit for Ridge and at the expense of Freeport’s zone defense.
“Down in Wells, when we beat them there, that was kind of what kept them in the game,” Ridge said. “They work really well together, setting screens for each other and getting those easy buckets inside.”
Wells trailed, 40-39, after a Wagner hoop with 3:52 left but shut the Falcons out over the next two minutes while a bucket by Cousins and two free throws and a three-point play gave the Warriors a 46-40 lead with 2:02 remaining.
Wagner scored again to make it 46-42. But Wells, which finished 19-for-36 from the free throw line, made six of eight down the stretch to escape.
“We’re a good free throw shooting team, but we were terrible tonight,” Brown said.
Wells took a 20-16 lead into halftime but could have enjoyed a more comfortable margin with better free throw shooting. The Warriors got into the bonus virtually from the start of the second quarter, but shot just 6-for-16 from the free throw line in the half.
Freeport, meanwhile, was just as cold from the field, shooting just 2-for-13 in the second quarter. The Falcons went over four minutes without scoring after Colby Wagner’s 3-pointer gave them a 12-10 lead.
Propelled by Bridge’s three-point play off a nice inside feed from Cousins, the Warriors went on an 8-0 run to take the lead.
“Their zone was a little extended out on the wings, so Tyler had a free reign in the middle, and Cam was making some nice passes to him, because he’s going to draw a double-team from them,” Brown said. “Tyler got himself under control and made some nice little two-, three-foot pull-up jumpers. Earlier in the year, he might have tried to bull through there and lay one in and get a charge and come away with nothing.”
“We’ve played together for a while now and we work a lot in practice together,” Bridge said. “I think Coach was stressing the fact that he thinks we have a mismatch against their bigs.”
Bridge went on an 8-0 run of his own to start the second half. His back-to-back putbacks made it 28-16.