AUGUSTA — Jim Bessey has given close to 700 halftime speeches in his coaching career.

Safe to bet that Saturday night’s pep talk ranked near the top on the brutal honesty scale. That’s what happens when a three-point play with one-tenth of a second left actually doubles your offensive output.

“Coach said it: There’s no way we could play as bad in the second half,“ Mt. Blue junior Cam Sennick said. “We just worked harder. That’s what we came out and tried to do.”

Finally making a couple of shots didn’t hurt. Getting the ball inside to Sennick and creating transition opportunities in the open Augusta Civic Center floor for Eric Berry worked wonders.

OK, maybe miracles is more like it. No. 4 Mt. Blue surviving a first half from the netherworld for a downright heavenly 47-36 Eastern Class A quarterfinal victory over No. 5 Lawrence probably qualifies.

“I’ve never been through a half where we scored (six) points,” Bessey said. “Certainly not in a venue like this.”

Sennick scored all 12 of his points in the second half to trigger the complete turnaround.

Backing up the 3-point play that gave the Cougars something, anything to hang their hat upon while they scratched their heads at halftime, Berry scored a team-high 17 to go with five assists and four steals.

Forget a tale of two halves. This was more like two different lifetimes. Mt. Blue shot 16-for-22 in the second half on the heels of a 2-for-19 debacle.

“They were a lot tougher mentally than us. At halftime obviously we had to make up our mind what we were going to do,” Bessey said. “I just think we weren’t as patient as we might have been. We turned the ball over. I think guys panicked. We were trying to do things to make them play a little faster, because, my goodness, they were chewing up the clock.”

“We just had to get our nerves out of the way and play our game I guess,” Berry added. “They are a good defensive team, but we just had to get our heads together.”

Mt. Blue (15-4) will face No. 1 Bangor (18-1) at 8:35 p.m. Wednesday in the semifinals. Bangor swept the home-and-home series during the KVAC campaign.

Adam Wiles-Rosell also scored seven second-half points and hauled down eight rebounds for the Cougars.

Lawrence’s trademark patience and vigilant halfcourt defense frustrated Mt. Blue into a shadow of itself. But the Bulldogs (10-9) cost themselves an opportunity to blow it open by matching the Cougars with 12 first-half turnovers and missing a fistful of shots, themselves.

Xaviere Scott led Lawrence with 19 points, including four 3-pointers. Nobody else scored more than two points for the Bulldogs until midway through the fourth quarter.

“That was a perfect first half until the last six seconds. Our defense was sensational. We got them rushing and used our athleticism,” Lawrence coach Mike McGee said. “The problem is you can’t play in a game like this with one scorer. Suddenly it’s a seven-point game at the half and it should have been 15. We don’t have anybody creating for us except Xaviere.”

Mt. Blue scored nine unanswered points late in the third quarter to grab a 23-21 lead.

Steven Yardley and Nick Hilton each scored their only bucket of the night during the march. Yardley’s was a 3-pointer.

Berry and Sennick also delivered deuces from close range.

“I wouldn’t say we played well, but we played better,” Bessey said. “Berry when he’s in the open floor plays better.”

Scott hit two of his three free throws after getting fouled beyond the arc just before quarter’s end, tying it at 23.

Sennick and Wiles-Rosell answered with back-to-back hoops to open the fourth. Sennick scored eight and Berry seven in the final stanza. Blake Hart provided an additional four from the line.

“I thought we put a clinic on in the first half. How to run your offense, even though we missed some layups, and how to play defense,“ McGee said. “We still played great defense. We just couldn’t make shots. We had numerous chances. We only have two seniors, and tonight we had only one guy who could make shots.”

[email protected]


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.