BUCKFIELD — Buckfield erupted for 28 points in the first quarter of Wednesday night’s Western Class D boys’ preliminary round game against Seacoast Christian of Berwick.
It wasn’t even the Bucks’ best start of the month. Those run-and-gun preferences produced 31 points in the first eight minutes of a victory over Richmond that sealed a tournament berth.
The home team kept it rolling in a 76-47 rout of the Guardians.
“We did everything we planned on doing,” senior forward Austin Dooley said. “Our game plan was just to come out fired up, and that’s what we did. Anything lower is unacceptable.”
Speaking of unacceptable, Buckfield found last year’s absence from the main stage at Augusta Civic Center most distasteful.
This win nipped that potential streak in the bud. No. 8 Buckfield (8-11) will confront No. 1 Hyde School (15-1) of Bath in the quarterfinals at 1 p.m. Saturday.
Alan Hedrick, one of five senior starters for Buckfield, drained six 3-pointers on his way to 30 points. He scored 23 of those in boosting the Bucks to a 42-21 halftime advantage.
Dooley added 20 points, 14 rebounds, five assists and five steals. Trevor Averill put together eight points, five steals and five assists.
Buckfield bolstered its case for entering the tourney as one of the hottest teams in the region. The Bucks have won seven of nine after a 1-9 start. Three losses were by a single point.
“We had setbacks early, some really tough losses, but the boys never quit. We’re going to go up there to the playoffs and try to make some noise,” Buckfield coach Doug Rines said. “We have a bunch of good athletes. The main thing the past four or five weeks is we’re starting to trust each other.”
Hedrick had 15 points in the first quarter, when the Bucks brought down the house by sinking six of their first nine shots and built a 15-point lead.
“They were shooting 3-(pointers) out like lightning, so what can you do? We’re usually a slower paced team,” Seacoast Christian coach Chris Royce said. “It was a bit of a culture shock for us.”
Buckfield’s bugaboo all season has been the third quarter, and the playoffs didn’t solve that troubling trend. Seacoast used a 14-5 run out of the locker room to trim the margin to 12.
Hedrick drained a 15-footer to end Buckfield’s drought. Dooley then delivered a steal and a drive to the hoop to refuel the Bucks’ running game.
“We always have this thing with the third quarter,“ Hedrick said. “It slowly built back up. We’re just so fast.”
Dooley dropped three more baskets in a furious finish to the quarter, including a 3-pointer at the horn for a 58-41 lead.
Junior tri-captain Caleb Gould led Seacoast Christian (9-10) with 14 points and 16 rebounds. Josh Gustafson and Logan Archer each chipped in eight points, with Archer tearing down 11 boards.
Seacoast, which gained a tournament berth on the strength of a win over Class C quarterfinalist Sacopee Valley, started five underclassmen.
“Third quarter we came out strong and cut the lead, but they were on fire tonight. They deserved to win,” Royce said. “If they shoot like that against Hyde, they‘ll give them a good game.”
Chase Barnes and Micah Madore joined Hedrick and Dooley in the 3-point parade for Buckfield, which put up 76 shots while forcing 27 Seacoast turnovers.
“It’s just one of those nights,” Hedrick said. “Home crowd. Everybody‘s excited. It was a big team effort.”