Deer Isle-Stonington scoring totals in the Eastern Class D boys’ basketball tournament: 90, 85, 76, 75.

Gould Academy opponents in the Western D tourney: 34, 44, 42.

The strategy and secret to success in today’s state championship game, slated for an approximate 3 p.m. tip at Bangor Auditorium, are no mystery. Deer Isle-Stonington (21-0) will push the accelerator and try to win its first Gold Ball since Stonington’s back-to-back titles in 1961-62 (before school consolidation) with quick steals and fast breaks. Gould (17-0) aims to end its 31-year title drought with deliberate diligence.

“Our biggest goal is to try to cut off the fast break,” said Gould coach Todd Siekman, “and then force them to play a half-court game and hope our bigger size will help out.”

Easier said than done, considering that the Mariners aren’t hurting for height. Junior forward Collin Ciomei is 6-foot-4 and was the Eastern tourney MVP after averaging 20 points per game in victories over Lubec, Katahdin, Central Aroostook and Schenck.

The Mariners can also work the ball inside to senior Rob Brown, who led Deer Isle-Stonington with 18 points on 7-for-7 shooting in one of Deer Isle-Stonington’s tournament victories. And senior point guard Bryant Ciomei is adept at locating his brother and everyone else, whether in transition or the rare slowdown set. The elder Ciomei chalked up seven points and 13 assists in the regional final.

Fortunately for the Huskies, they can count on that same kind of production at the point from their own regional MVP, T.L. Tutor. The senior produced 13 points, six assists and five steals per game in Augusta, where his biggest bugaboo wasn’t the team in the opposite-colored jerseys but foul trouble.

“There are a few things (the referees) call closer in the tournament,” Siekman said, “but T.L. has a habit of reaching anyway. That’s his game. He’s aggressive.”

Ian Siekman, a rangy, 6-5 forward and the coach’s son, also spent many key minutes on the bench due to the mounting whistles. While that prevented him from maintaining his regular-season scoring pace, Siekman compensated with his rebounding and shot-blocking presence.

Evan Bruens (13.3 points per game in the tourney) and Seth Gray (10.0) filled the scoring void nicely as Gould never wavered from its patient approach with the basketball.

The taller Bruens twin, 6-5 Tyler, will be worth his size in gold on the defensive glass today, with Gould hoping to keep its back to the basket and limit the incendiary Mariners to one shot per possession.

Both teams boast recent experience in knocking off favored and unbeaten foes. Deer Isle-Stonington dropped two-time defending state champion Central Aroostook (then 20-0) in the Eastern semifinals. Gould knocked off tournament fixture Valley in the Western semis before ending Richmond’s 19-game winning streak in the title game.

“You always have to go into a game confident,” Tyler Bruens said. “There’s no point going into a game and saying, ‘Well, that’s it.’ We know we have to play well.”

Neither team should have trouble handling a close game, either. Gould trailed both Valley and Richmond at halftime. Deer Isle-Stonington needed Jon Eaton’s 3-point play on an offensive put-back with 8.7 seconds left to shake Schenck, 75-74, for Eastern supremacy. Eaton finished with 23 points.

Gould traces the roots of its title run to an early-season game against Rangeley in which the Huskies trailed by 14 points at intermission.

“Once we came back to beat them,” said Ian Siekman, “we felt like we could beat anybody else we played.”

Deer Isle-Stonington, coached by 1967 graduate Glenn Billings, shot 26-of-48 from the field and 16-of-20 from the free-throw line against Schenck. Gould knocked down seven 3-pointers in the first half at Richmond’s expense.

Those kind of numbers aren’t normative in a state final, and it’s safe to say that neither team can afford to yield that level of efficiency this time around.

“Play our game. Don’t make too many turnovers. Stay out of foul trouble,” summarized Tutor.


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