Boys’ Class B championship: Coyotes end Knights’ charge

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Old Town jumped out to a 9-0 lead and never blinked to defeat Poland, 64-39, for the Class B championship in a historic meeting of underdogs at the Cross Insurance Center Friday night.

It is Old Town’s fifth state title, but first in Class B. All of the others came when it was in Class A, the last in 1991.

Both teams emerged from their regions unlikely champions as No. 6 seeds. But it was clear from the start the Coyotes (18-5) had more left in the tank than the Knights (13-9).

Junior guard Eric Hoogterp had 26 points to lead all scorers. That included four 3-pointers, a couple of which came from well beyond NBA 3-point range. Hoogterp also had seven rebounds to lead Old Town’s dominance on the boards 41-25. He also had four assists.

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“No one thought we’d be here, but we did it,” Hoogterp said.

Mitchell Cole added 14 points for the Coyotes.

CJ Martin was the only Poland player to reach double figures with 17 points, but Old Town did everything in its power to keep the Knights’ spark plug from reaching the white-hot shooting heights he often reached in the Western Maine tournament.

That was particularly apparent at the start of the second half. Trailing by 10 at the break, the Knights got a layup and a 3-pointer from Martin to cut the deficit in half two minutes in.

Old Town coach Brian McDormand called a time out immediately after the 3 and reminded his team that Poland had erased bigger deficits in Portland.

“We knew watching that Greely game (in the regional final), they got down by 20 early and came back and won that one,” said Old Town junior guard Garvey Melmed, who had the unenviable task of guarding Martin much of the night. “We knew that second half they were down by 10 and they were going to come out firing trying to shorten that lead a little bit. They got those two quick baskets and we just had to slow their momentum down. That time out worked.”

Indeed, the Coyotes roared out of the time out with an 11-4 run. After Melmed hit two free throws resulting from a technical foul called on Josh Gary for grabbing the rim, Nick Cowen sandwiched a pair of putbacks around Hoogterp’s second deep 3-pointer for a 39-27 lead.

“He hit some tough contested shots that were deep. There’s just not much you can do on that,” Poland coach Tyler Tracy said.

Poland briefly cut it to nine on an inside hoop by Gary, but Hoogterp answered with a bucket just before the buzzer to send the margin into double digits for good.

Old Town flew out to the 9-0 lead by flummoxing Poland with a diamond-and-one. Shawn Murphy’s three-point play capped a quick five-point response from the Knights, but they never got any closer.

“We just got caught standing and watching a lot,” Tracy said. “The pressure doesn’t bother us because, in our conference, we’d seen everything, and that’s something unique that we’d never seen, and it really stuttered us. Every time that we would make a run, they would make a bigger run immediately after.”

Three-pointers by Hoogterp and Melmed put the Coyotes up by 11 with a little over three minutes left in the half. Martin tried to rally the Knights with a pair of jumpers, but Hoogterp fed Adam Richardson inside to make it 28-18 at the half.

Poland fans hoped to witness another memorable comeback. Old Town only got stronger as the second half unfolded.

“What these guys have done for this program and this community means way more than a Gold Ball,” Tracy said. “The Gold Ball would be nice, but what they’ve done is special, and there’s a lot of pride in the community because of those 13 guys.”

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