AUGUSTA — Buckfield has proven itself fully capable of clawing back from bad starts and daunting deficits.
Down 17-2 to the top seed at the start of a tournament game? Yeah, that one was too tough to tackle.
No. 1 Hyde School of Bath brought a touch of Showtime to the Augusta Civic Center court in the first quarter Saturday afternoon, settling the issue early in a 60-40 Western Class D quarterfinal victory over the eighth-ranked Bucks.
Wilson McMillan’s outside shooting touch, Jonah Alexander’s dominance in the low post and Tyquan Ekejiuba’s sensational point guard generalship blossomed in the spotlight for Hyde (16-1).
Any one of those elements would be a head-scratching challenge for a Class D opponent. Buckfield (9-11) had to digest it all, often while chasing a 3-on-2 or 4-on-3 play after a steal or long outlet pass.
“Everything they did was drive baseline and kick the ball,” Buckfield coach Doug Rines said. “They’re just a well coached team and a classy team. Big, long, great athletes.”
Alexander, a 6-foot-3 senior who plays startlingly bigger, erupted for 16 points and 20 rebounds to pace the Phoenix. MacMillan, a sophomore, scored seven of his 11 points in the first quarter on the strength of two 3-pointers.
The glue that held it all together, though, was Ekejiuba. The 5-foot-7 senior — a wide receiver on Hyde’s football team in the fall — had 10 points, 10 steals and five assists.
Some of Ekejiuba’s no-look and quick-look passes were too good, in fact, probably costing him a triple double.
“The basketball gods sent him to me,” Hyde coach Peter E. Rowe said.
“That’s the best point guard we’ve seen, Class A, B, C or D,” added Rines.
Once the high-octane Phoenix ratcheted that lead to 34-17 at the half, it never again dipped beneath the 15-point threshold.
Chris Moulton added eight points for Hyde, which advanced to the semifinals at 11:30 a.m. Wednesday against No. 5 Vinalhaven.
Hyde held Buckfield’s Alan Hedrick, who drained five 3-pointers and 30 points in the preliminary round against Seacoast Christian, to a pair of field goals, no 3s and nine points.
“We have spurts of three or four minutes where we play great defense,” Rowe said. “Then we have other times where we think we’re the Harlem Globetrotters.”
Austin Dooley topped the Bucks with 19 points.
Buckfield forced 30 turnovers, led by Hedrick’s seven steals and Trevor Averill‘s five thefts.
Five senior starters led Buckfield to an unlikely tournament berth after a 1-9 start.
“To come back and fight and even make the playoffs is huge,” Rines said. “We had four-year12th graders who have worked hard and understood what we wanted. Austin and Alan and Trevor, all heart. Just a bunch of great kids. Were going to hold our heads up high.”