AUGUSTA — Monmouth fell behind by double digits twice in the first half but had no intention of laying down.

“We just knew that if we kept true to our method, kept true to what we believe in, which is defense and rebounding,” Mustangs coach Wade Morrill said, “we’d find a way.”

As it has throughout the postseason, Monmouth found a way and claimed its first boys basketball state championship with a 52-50 win over Mount View on Saturday at Augusta Civic Center.

“It feels crazy,” senior Sammy Calder said. “It’s just insane to me that we’re the only group to do it in the school’s history. It’s unbelievable.”

Calder and a lot of the Mustangs have now claimed the triple crown, winning state titles in baseball, soccer and basketball in a nine-month span.

“It feels great to be the first team to do this at Monmouth,” senior Kyle Palleschi said. “I mean, three in a row is really something special. I hope we can bring one more home (for baseball) my last year and go for four in a row.”


A 10-0 run by Mount View put the Mustangs down by double digits, 12-2, in the first quarter. Monmouth scored eight straight points to get within two.

Another 10-point outburst by Mount View established another double-digit lead. With 4:15 left in the first half and trailing 24-12, Monmouth called a timeout.

It seemed like gut-check time, but the Mustangs remained steady.

“We knew they were going to make runs, we knew they were real good,” Morrill said. “They got out to that big lead early, and we knew they played off emotion. We knew we just had to stay steady, not ride the wave.”

Monmouth again clawed its way back into the game, finishing the half on a 13-2 run, including the final 11 points. Freshman Jacob Harmon scored the final four, the last two a basket right before the halftime buzzer to get the Mustangs within one point, 26-25.

“I think we just got more comfortable,” Calder said. “I think a lot of the guys were nervous. I mean, even I was nervous … and I think we just got more comfortable. Especially in the end of the second quarter, we went on a little run to make it a one-point game, and I think that helped us a lot.”


Calder gave Monmouth its first lead since 2-0 with a basket early in the second half.

Noah Hurd quickly answered with a 3-pointer to give the lead back to Mount View.

The teams battled back and forth for the next few minutes, but the Mustangs didn’t regain the lead until Palleschi made a 3 midway through the period to put Monmouth up 34-32.

Moments later, Monmouth point guard Aiden Oliveira grabbed a rebound and threw the ball up the court to Calder for a layup. Calder was fouled on the play, and he added the free throw to push the lead to 37-32.

“Sammy’s a hooper,” Jacob Harmon said. “He wants to be the guy, and he is the guy.”

Mount View continued to battle but never overtook Monmouth.


Palleschi had one of his best games of the season, which was highlighted by nine points in the third. He finished with 13 in the game.

“All year and all practices, I’ve just been battling,” Palleschi said. “I had one game where I played well, but other than that I’ve struggled to find myself offensively. But these guys trust me and they kept giving me the ball, and I just kept looking to score. And I just kept hitting shots.”

Palleschi said he felt good in warmups, and while some of the Monmouth players were battling nerves in the first half, he remained calm and slowed down the pace.

“I think he just focused up,” Calder said. “We were talking before the game — me, him and Luke (Harmon) — like, ‘This is our last game boys, we’re just going to go out there and play, just do our thing.’ I guess that’s just what Kyle did.”

A putback by junior Bingham Abbott sent the Mustangs into the fourth quarter with a 43-38 advantage.

Abbott and Jacob Harmon came up big throughout the game, Abbott finishing with eight points and Harmon with seven.


Their importance was amplified when Jacob Harmon’s brother Lucas fouled out with 4:44 left in the game.

Lucas Harmon was the hero in the fourth quarter of last week’s C South final victory over Mt. Abram, but in the state title game the Mustangs were going to have to win without him.

“We knew we had guys that were going to come off the bench and do their job,” Palleschi said. “I mean, we prepare them in practice. All year long, Bingham and Luke have been going at each other, and Luke’s been coaching Bing up, saying, ‘Hey, this is going to be you next year, right? You need to know what to do in these situations.’ And Bingham came in and did everything Luke’s told him to do.”

Mount View tied the game at 45-45 when Wyatt Evensen hit a pair of free throws with 4:02 remaining in the game.

Abbott scored a basket, but free throws by Hurd evened the score again, with 3:35 left.

Calder gave Monmouth the lead for good by getting behind the Mount View defense and laying the ball into the hoop. Then Jacob Harmon found Abbott on a similar play, and the Mustangs led 51-47 with less than two minutes to play.


A 3-pointer by Stuart Knowlton cut Monmouth’s lead to 51-50.

Jacob Harmon made one of two free throws to get the lead back to two points.

Mount View set up a play in the final seconds, but Palleschi forced Evensen into an off-balance shot.

“I knew this was going to be their last shot and they were going to have to try to score,” Palleschi said. “So I told myself, ‘Don’t foul, no need to foul, just contest the shot, make it hard for him.’ And he ended up taking a tough 2, which was really good, and I ended up getting the rebound.”

After the rebound, Palleschi was fouled with seven-tenths of a second remaining. He missed both free throws but Mount View didn’t have time to get off a decent shot.

Seven players scored for Monmouth, led by Calder’s 15 and Palleschi’s 13.


The Mustangs’ second leading scorer during the season, freshman Levi Laverdiere, was held to two points.

“They put Noah (Hurd) on Levi and face-guarded him,” Morrill said. “So I said, ‘What a great sign of respect, Levi. As a freshman, you’ve got one of the quickest, toughest, best defenders in the state face-guarding you in a state championship game.’”

But, similar to the regional final, the attention on Monmouth’s top scorers led to opportunities for other players.

“Just the attention that Sammy and Levi draw, opens it up for me and Bingham,” Jacob Harmon said.

Saturday’s game was the latest in a string of four battles that Monmouth faced this postseason. Rival Winthrop tested the Mustangs before they pulled away in regional quarterfinals. Another rival, Hall-Dale, led by nine late in the semifinal game before Monmouth forced overtime, and last Saturday, the Mustangs won their first regional title with a hard-fourth three-point win over Mt. Abram.

“Hit and smash, kick and thrash,” Morrill said. “We just play hard, we play tough, we play together, and we try to play smart as much as we can. This group of guys, I don’t know, they’re special.”

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