Evan Worster became the first high school player ever to eclipse the 50-point barrier at the Augusta Civic Center.
Funny thing is, his 51 in Saturday’s Western Class D boys’ quarterfinals weren’t even enough for sole possession of the all-time record at Forest Hills Consolidated School, which serves the international border communities of Jackman and Moose River.
Josh Kipp, a 3-point specialist, put up the same number 11 years ago in a late-season game against Eastgate Christian.
“That was in overtime,” Forest Hills coach Anthony Amero said. “He hit 11 3s.”
Worster’s record-shattering show was old-school. He didn’t sink a single bonus ball, dropping 21 two-point field goals — another Western D record — and nine free throws.
Forest Hills dumped the ball inside to Worster, a 6-foot-3 junior, for 14 of its 19 first-quarter points. He had 31 at the half. With the Tigers in complete command at that point, 44-17, Worster’s run at history was the lone remaining dramatic detail.
“My teammates were looking for me inside all day, and my coach said we could get it inside all day because they didn’t have much size,” Worster said. “I was trying to stay aggressive with that record in sight. They kept getting me the ball and helping me out.”
The final was 88-37.
Worster, who has started since eighth grade and scored his 1,000th career point late this season, generated all his points within the flow of Forest Hills’ offense.
To wit: Freshman Matt Turner scored all 13 of his points in the second half. The Ouellette brothers, Derick and Brandon, combined for 19 points on the day. Worster also hauled down 13 rebounds, dished out three assists and made four steals.
Not that Worster can’t shoot 3-pointers. He started his career as the team’s shooting guard, then moved to point guard. He has become the de facto center as the tallest player on the squad of eight.
“He’s played all the positions and it makes him tough to guard,” Amero said. He’s 6-3 on a good day. He’s still young. Age-wise he’s only a sophomore, so he should have a growth spurt. We’re hoping for next year.”
“I think the guard skills I developed as an eighth-grader have carried over and helped me,” added Worster. “I still have those guard skills even though I grew into my size.”
The pressure got to Worster ever so slightly as he closed in on the record.
He stepped to the line at 45 points with 4:51 to go, having already tied the Western Class D mark of A.R. Gould’s Ian Nono, set in 2010.
A lane violation gave him three chances to stand alone. Worster missed them all.
Worster was awarded another pair of freebies at the 3:38 mark and sank the second.
“There was definitely a lot of pressure on those last free throws,” he said.
Amero said he was unaware of the impending mark. Mike LeBlanc, his assistant the past 15 years, gave Amero the clue not to pull his star player despite the one-sided score.
After the new standard hit 51, LeBlanc nudged Amero and Derick Ouellette trotted to the scorer’s table to check in.
Josh Kipp, wherever he was, could rest easily.
“That’s how good my assistant coach is. He keeps the peace with the alumni,” Amero joked.
Only three players in Maine history have scored more points in a postseason game.
Alan Madore of Van Buren erupted for 54 in a 1986 preliminary. That was before the advent of the 3-point shot.
Bill Burney of Cony had 53 in an Eastern A tournament game at Bangor Auditorium in 1969. Burney later became mayor of Augusta.
Mountain Valley’s Andy Bedard matched that total at Bangor in the 1994 Class B state championship.
The previous Western Maine high was 48 by Robbie Morin of Hall-Dale in a 1990 Class C prelim.
MVC proving its mettle
Not that Spruce Mountain need any reason other then winning to be at its best to open up the Western Class B tournament. But the fact that they earned the No. 2 seed in the tourney while playing in the MVC and with a predominantly Class C schedule gave them another.
“We talked about it,” Spruce Mountain coach Chris Bessey said. “A lot was made of how the road opened up for (No. 3) Yarmouth after Lincoln upset (No. 6) Greely. It gave them an easier game, and they’d probably beat us or Wells, given the chance, on Thursday. We talked about how everybody was overlooking us.”
Not that he didn’t expect it, though.
“I would be, too,” Bessey said matter-of-factly. “Coming from coaching the girls at Jay, it was the opposite. We thought the Western Maine Conference teams were weaker (in Class C), so I’ve been on both sides. We’ve overlooked WMC teams in the past and gotten beat. I think we’re earning the MVC some respect overall.”
The Phoenix went a long way toward that goal Saturday with a quarterfinal win over the WMC’s Wells Warriors. Next up? Yarmouth in the semifinal round.