Second-half defense keys Caribou boys’ victory over PI
PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — Caribou coach Kyle Corrigan said an increased concentration on team defense was at the forefront of his team’s mindset heading into the second half of Thursday’s varsity basketball game at Presque Isle High School.
The Vikings responded, turning a four-point halftime deficit into a 62-43 victory before a near sellout crowd. It was Caribou’s fifth consecutive victory and improved the team’s record to 8-3 and secured its current No. 2 ranking in the Heal Point standings for Class B North.
Caribou blocked five shots, forced 11 turnovers and held Presque Isle, now 6-4 on the season, to 4-of-21 shooting from the field after intermission. The Wildcats made only two of their final 18 shots in the contest.
“We really pride ourselves on our defense and after giving up 31 points in the first half, we weren’t too proud of it at that point,” Corrigan said. “That was the consensus in the locker room and I didn’t have to say a whole lot, but we decided we were going to try to amp up the pressure a little bit.
“We’ve only practiced that 1-2-2 full court press a couple times, but I knew we were athletic enough to pull if off and I think that helped turn the tables,” he added.
The Wildcats committed eight of their 18 turnovers in the third quarter and saw their four-point lead become a four-point deficit during the eight-minute stretch.
“It has been one quarter that has cost us in a couple of big games this year,” said PI coach Terry Cummings. “In the second half, our ball movement was not crisp and we really struggled against their pressure.”
Presque Isle still led 38-35, thanks to a Jonah Hudson 3-pointer that came with 2:05 left in the quarter. After that, it was all Caribou, which went on a 27-5 flurry the rest of the way.
Isaac Marker gathered in a missed free throw by teammate Austin Findlen and made the layup to give his team the lead for good (40-38) 30 seconds after Hudson’s shot. Parker Deprey hit a 3-point field goal, Marker connected on two short baseline jumpers and Sawyer Deprey and Alex Bouchard made driving layups before PI’s Caleb Wheaton netted his team’s only basket of the fourth quarter with 4:22 remaining.
By then, the Vikings led 52-43 and they scored the game’s final 10 points to win going away.
The Vikings rode the hot shooting of Sawyer Deprey to bolt out to an 18-12 lead late in the first quarter. The sophomore tallied 10 points in the first 4:35, nailing two 3-pointers and finding room along the baseline for a layup and a 10-foot jumper.
Caribou hit nine of its 15 shot attempts in the first period and turned the ball over only once.
Presque Isle bounced back to own the second quarter. The Vikings had six turnovers and had to play without Parker Deprey for half the period after he picked up his second personal foul. Caribou went through a cold shooting spell in the period, connecting on just three of 11 attempts, but Marker kept his team in the game with a pair of field goals, including a 3-pointer.
The Wildcats had a stretch making four consecutive field goals, two on inside buckets by Trace Cyr, and also got an unexpected contribution off the bench from Cole Paterson, who nailed a 3-pointer and a pair of free throws.
“We executed our game plan very well in the first half,” Cummings said. “The guys were moving the ball, knocking down shots and getting to the rim.”
Presque Isle grabbed its largest lead (31-24) following a pair of foul shots by Hudson with 1:21 left in the half, but Parker Deprey nailed a deep 3-pointer from the wing with 1:02 left to cut the deficit to four heading into intermission.
Parker Deprey scored 18 points and Marker finished with 17 for Caribou. Bouchard scored seven of his nine points in the final period.
Wheaton had a team-high 15 points for the Wildcats and Hudson scored 13 hard-earned points, which was seven below his season average. He was guarded throughout by Austin Findlen, who Corrigan said was ready for the defensive challenge.
“We ask Austin to do a lot of things for us and he sacrifices a lot of offense,” Corrigan said. “Jonah is a fantastic player and he can shoot the 3, he can penetrate, he can dish, he can go right, he can go left. It’s really hard to prepare for him but Austin was up to the challenge and did a really good job.”