BANGOR — Matt Turner scored 16 points to lead a balanced attack as Forest Hills of Jackman defeated Central Aroostook of Mars Hill, 55-48, at Bangor Auditorium on Saturday afternoon to win its first Class D boys basketball state championship.
The Tigers ended Eastern Maine’s nine-year hold on the Class D boys state crown with a mix of patient offense, offensive rebounding strength, second-half defensive pressure and a knack for gaining control of nearly all the loose balls.
Derick Ouellette added 13 points and seven rebounds for coach Anthony Amero’s club, while Ryan Petrin had 10 points, 10 rebounds and four assists and Evan Worster also scored 10 points.
Sophomore guard Chandler Brewer scored a game-high 23 points for Central Aroostook. Steven Decker added eight points and seven rebounds.
Forest Hills, which lost to Jonesport-Beals in last year’s state final, finishes its season with a 20-2 record. Central Aroostook, playing in its fifth state final in the last nine years, is 17-6.
Forest Hills took the lead for good by outscoring Central Aroostook 11-2 over the first four minutes of the third quarter, with Worster scoring twice and feeding Turner for a layup to spark an offensive run fueled by the Tigers’ turning to a zone press defensively that produced several Central Aroostook turnovers.
Central Aroostook got within 30-29 on a four-point play by Joe Stiles with 1:28 left in the period, but Stiles then drew his fourth foul and was relegated to the Panthers’ bench.
Forest Hills then scored the final six points of the third period, with Brandon Ouellette beating the third-quarter buzzer with a 3-pointer from the right corner to give the Tigers a 36-29 lead.
Central Aroostook made one more run, closing within three points twice during the fourth quarter, the final time at 43-40 on a baseline drive by Brewer with 4:30 remaining.
Things looked worse for Forest Hills when Worster — the school’s career scoring leader — fouled out with 3:58 left, but the rest of the Tigers picked up the slack.
Forest Hills held Central Aroostook without a field goal until a 3-pointer by Decker with just 27.3 seconds left, and by that time the Tigers had built their lead to 53-42 with a 10-2 run capped off by a Tanner Daigle layup with 38 seconds left.
Central Aroostook struggled offensively at the outset, and Forest Hills also used an advantage on the offensive backboards to take early control.
Central Aroostook didn’t manage a field goal until Chandler Brewer struck with just 10 seconds left in an opening period that ended with Forest Hills holding a 7-3 lead.
The Tigers maintained a 14-9 edge two minutes into the second quarter before Joe Stiles drove into the lane for his first basket and Brewer connected on a 3-pointer from the right of the key to lift Central Aroostook into a 14-14 tie.
Forest Hills later moved out to a 19-16 lead on a drive by Matt Turner and a free throw by Petrin, but Alex Folsom’s right-wing 3-pointer with 1:46 left in the period sent the teams into intermission locked in a stalemate.