BETHEL — Nate Westman’s torrid start to Tuesday night’s Western Class C preliminary may have seemed like a distant memory by late in the fourth quarter, but there was still little doubt who would have the ball for Traip with the game on the line.

Westman knocked down a 17-foot pull-up jumper with 2.2 seconds remaining as No. 10 Traip completed a dramatic come-from-behind victory over No. 7 Telstar, 65-63.

Traip (10-8) advances to face No. 2 Boothbay in the quarterfinals Monday at the Augusta Civic Center. Telstar finishes its season at 12-7.

After Mark McKenney’s 13-foot bank shot tied the game for Traip at 63 with 29 seconds left, Telstar turned the ball over, one of six turnovers in the final quarter, to give the Rangers the ball back with 21.4 seconds remaining.

After a time out, Traip tried to run Westman off a couple of screens at the top of the key, but the play fell apart. So the senior guard created an opening on his own and found just enough daylight to get off the shot.

“I wasn’t sure what to do. It was kind of crowded (at the top of the key),” said Westman, who finished with a game-high 24 points and five steals. “I just wanted to drive to the hoop and see what happened. I got halfway to the rim and pulled up.”

“I was actually surprised they didn’t double-team him and keep the ball away from him and make somebody else do it. But I’ll take it,” Traip coach Jeremy Paul said.

Westman had torched the Rebels for 11 points in the first quarter, including three 3-pointers, and 15 points in the first half. But Telstar mixed in some zone defenses with their man-to-man to give the Western Maine Conference’s fourth-leading scorer some different looks .

“We were in the defense we wanted to be, had our best defender on him (Elek Pew). He hit a good shot,” Telstar coach Mark Thurlow said. “Elek played good defense. The kid got off a good  shot.”

Dan Vaughn led a balanced Telstar offense with 17 points, eight rebounds, three assists and three steal, while Corey Howard and Ben Filed added 11 apiece.

But after shooting 54 percent from the floor through the first three quarters, the Rebels went into a shell offensively in the fourth, going without a field goal in the final five minutes.

“I thought we stopped running our half-court stuff,” Thurlow said. “We turned the ball over four straight times. We weren’t looking to score.”

Vaughn drove to the hoop and scored to make it 61-52 with a little over five minutes remaining. Sparked by an aggressive half-court defense, Traip closed the game with a 13-2 run.

Telstar didn’t do itself any favors from the free-throw line, either. After making nine of 11 through three quarters, it made just two of six in the fourth.

Westman came out firing in the first quarter, making three of his first four 3-point attempts as the Rangers opened up a 24-18 lead after one.

Telstar cooled him and all of the Rangers off by playing zone in the second quarter. But with 6-foot-5 center Ben Field relegated to the bench with foul trouble, Traip center Brian Goda (13 points, 14 rebounds) was able to get some critical second opportunities, hauling in half of the Rangers’ 10 offensive rebounds in the half.

Lucas Edwards’ 3-pointer  at the buzzer gave Traip a 41-36 lead at halftime, but Paul was concerned that Telstar’s offense was coming a little too easy.

“We didn’t play defense well at all in the first half,” Paul said. “It’s been the story of our season — good quarter, bad quarter, good quarter, bad quarter.”

The Rebels unveiled a full-court zone press early in the second half and Field went off for nine points to spark a 21-5 third quarter that put them up 57-46 heading into the fourth period.

“We have nine seniors on our team and we didn’t want this to be our last game,” Westman said. “Our defense was key in the fourth. Our defense leads to offense a lot of the time.”

“We’ve been having good third quarters all year. That (press) was productive because they were coming down and taking the first shot they saw,” Thurlow said. “I think this is a good defensive team. It’s one of my better ones. Maybe we didn’t get the ball inside enough to Howard, but that Goda kid is a pretty good player. They were a pretty good defensive team.”


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