AUGUSTA — Waynflete got a taste of what winning its first Western Class C title would be like in 2013. But that taste turned sour when the Flyers lost to Boothbay in the regional final.
This time, the Flyers were able to savor the sweetness of victory.
Serge Nyirikamba, the tournament’s most outstanding player, tallied 22 points, 11 rebounds and four blocks and No. 3 Waynflete controlled throughout in a 62-38 win over No. 5 Maranacook Saturday night at the Augusta Civic Center.
Harry Baker-Connick added 15 points and Milo Belleau 11 for Waynflete (18-2), which will face Eastern C champion Houlton for the state title next Saturday night in Augusta.
“I think teams think we’re more of a, ‘give it to Serge and he does his thing’ team,” Baker-Connick said. “But we have better supporting players than people think.”
Taylor Wilbur had 15 points to lead Maranacook, which finishes its first season in Class C at 16-6.
Maranacook, which set a tournament record for 3-pointers in a game against Monmouth in the quarterfinals and lit up top-seeded Dirigo for 87 points in the semifinals, shot just 24 percent from the floor and 3-for-20 from beyond the 3-point arc Saturday. The Black Bears didn’t score in the final 6:45.
Maranacook had no answers for Nyirikamba in the first half (17 points) and found Waynflete’s quickness problematic in its 2-3 zone at the other end. The Black Bears, who came into the game having already broken the record for 3-pointers made in the tournament, couldn’t count on the open looks they were getting in the first two rounds. They shot 2-for-11 from beyond the arc for the half.
That included a statement play by Nyirikamba in which he blocked a Wilbur 3 attempt, collected the loose ball at halfcourt and took it in for a layup while drawing a foul. The subsequent free throw gave the Flyers an 18-9 lead late in the first quarter.
“We rarely see a zone in the KVAC B,” Maranacook coach Rob Schmidt said. “That was a very good zone. They’re very quick. They closed out well. They covered the passing lanes well. They contested the ball reversal. I mean, they did everything they had to to combat us.”
Maranacook pulled to within four on a Kent Mohlar layup to start the second period, but the Bears’ shooting woes (6-for-25, 24 percent) returned. Baker-Connick hit a baseline floater and a layup, then Nyirikamba sliced through the baseline for a reverse that gave the Flyers a 35-22 lead at halftime.
“It’s easy to say, okay, box him out, or face-guard him, know where he is all the time,” Schmidt said of Nyirikamba. “But he’s a lot smarter than that. He’s savvy.”
The Black Bears still couldn’t find the mark to start the second half. They missed their first eight shot attempts before Martin made a layup in transition with 1:42 left in the quarter. The Flyers had already committed to slowing the tempo down, so they had only widened their lead to 18 by that point.
“We had a game plan coming into the game. They were executing on it,” said Waynflete coach Rich Henry. “We talked (at halftime) about a couple of things we wanted to make sure we were doing, which was not fouling the 3-point shooter and making sure that we took some time on offense if we didn’t have the shot that we wanted.”
Wilbur produced nine of his team’s 11 points in the quarter, and Waynflete led by 15 heading into the fourth.
Mohlar scored to start the final eight minutes, then Brochu hit a 3-pointer to pull Maranacook within 48-38 with 6:45 left. The Flyers didn’t score until Joey Schnier’s 3-pointer midway through the quarter, but that was more than enough.
“We learned last year that you have to come out and play 32 minutes of cold intensity. You can’t let down for one minute,” Baker-Connick said. “I think we did a very good job of that today.”