AUGUSTA — Taylor Wilbur spent Monday morning virtually alone in the Maranacook Community High School gymnasium working on his shooting for the Black Bears’ Western Class C quarterfinal against Winthrop that night.
The senior guard found his stroke in his home gym, knocking down 12 or 13 3-pointers in a row there, then somehow maintained it in the hours and 13 miles that separated him from the Augusta Civic Center.
Wilbur made eight 3-pointers, two shy of the tournament record, and scored 34 points to lead the fifth-seeded Black Bears to a 68-52 win over No. 4 Winthrop.
Maranacook (15-5) will face top-seeded Dirigo in the semifinals on Thursday night.
“I did go up to the school this morning to try and get my legs underneath me, so I was coming in prepared for (the ACC’s deep shooting backdrop),” Wilbur said. “I focus more on the rim now as my coach told me to do. A lot of it was just focus on the rim and elevate.”
“He’s tough when he’s on,” Maranacook coach Rob Schmidt said. “The thing with Taylor is he can go by you, so you’ve got to respect his speed. He pulls up and shoots so quickly that you also have to respect his shot, so you kind of have to pick your poison.”
While he fell shy of the individual record of 10, set by Robbie Morin of Hall-Dale in 1990 prelim game, Wilbur did help the Bears set a new Class C team record for 3-pointers with 12 (in 22 attempts).Morin’s 1990 effort also stood as the team record and was tied by the 2012 Hall-Dale team. Cam Brochu (14 points, two 3s), and Caleb Jackson (two 3s) had the other 3-pointers.
Ben Allen led Winthrop (14-5) with 16 points, while Dakota Carter and Anthony Owens each added 13.
Wilbur hit a pair of 3-pointers in each of the first two quarters, part of seven the Bears made overall. Yet the Ramblers kept up with the breakneck pace by out-working them on the offensive boards, taking care of the ball and getting to the free throw line (10-for-12). Winthrop led 32-29 at the half.
“We came out a little bit flat. Winthrop came out with more intensity than we did and that definitely disappointed me,” Schmidt said. “That changed in the second half.”
Wilbur’s first 3-pointer of the second half tied it a 36-36. Jackson’s second trey put them in front to stay at 41-38 with 5:25 left in the quarter.
Wilbur extended his range during a 9-2 Maranacook run, drilling a fadeaway from about 30 feet, then knocking down his eighth trey to make it 53-44 with 6:17 to go. His legs started betraying him as he approached the record, however, and he front-rimmed the rest of his attempts.
“I wasn’t keeping track (of the record) until everyone was telling me about it,” he said. “The bigger court, I noticed it at that point.”
With Wilbur tiring and Brochu and fellow starter fouling out, the Ramblers battled back to within five on a Carter inside hoop with 2:54 left. But Kent Mohlar, who didn’t score through the first 30 minutes, poured in six straight points in less than a minute as the Bears ended the game with a 9-0 run.
“Mohlar woke up. He’s sick,” Schmidt said. “He had a 101 fever on Saturday night into Sunday morning and judging by the bags under his eyes, I don’t think he’s feeling very good. But the kid’s a warrior and he wasn’t about to let us lose that game.”