Undefeated Tigers brush past 2008 Class D champs

15 years ago
by Abigail Hunt
staff writer

    The crowd was anything but quiet; the game, anything but slow. On Jan. 6, the undefeated Fort Fairfield boys’ varsity basketball team hosted the 2008 Class D Eastern Maine Champions, the Central Aroostook Panthers. The Tigers took a 65-62 victory at the buzzer, but not without a fight. Even before the tip off, momentum ran strongly throughout the stands as the two teams warmed up. 

One fan remarked to F.F.H.S. Athletic Director Tim Ward, “it feels like Bangor in here with all the energy.” That energy rapidly propelled itself onto the court as play began, and for the next hour, both teams were back and forth down the court.
    By the end of the first quarter, Panther senior Manny Martinez had proved his ability to everyone there, banking two 3-pointers to tie the score 12-12 going into the second quarter. As both teams were given a bonus, they accumulated a majority of their points through fouls shots, but senior Douglas Sharpe knocked in a 3-pointer with one minute to go before the half, pulling the Tigers ahead 30-27. Until then, the Panthers had been breathing down the Tigers’ backs, answering every free throw with one of their own.     Moving into the third, Fort Fairfield was able to obtain a five-point lead from their opponent, as junior Josh Booth scored yet another 3-pointer, and the two teams prepared for the final eight minutes.
    Though Central Aroostook was consistent offensively throughout the night, it was their defense in the fourth that made the final score feel like a worthy achievement. When they weren’t shooting, the Panthers were putting on pressure but maintaining a high speed, forcing the Tigers to make quick passes and take what often resulted in sloppy shots. It became a battle of agility vs. height in this matchup of felines and it seemed the faster the game, the louder the crowd. With 1:17 to go before the buzzer, Fort Fairfield led by two. A foul on Tiger Travis Noyes allotted Fort Fairfield two free, successful, shots and though the Panthers refused to give up, making a free throw in the last few seconds of the game, the Tigers’ lead proved just enough to keep them at the top of Class D.
    Fans cheered and clapped as Martinez exited the court with seconds left on the clock. Martinez had a game-high 25 points for the Panthers, and teammate Caleb Kelly contributed 13. Leading offensively for the Tigers was Sharpe, with 13 total points, followed closely by Noyes with 12 and Booth with 11. In a night of repetitive 3-point attempts, Central Aroostook made seven, and Fort Fairfield put away five.
    The Tigers traveled to Madawaska Thursday night, taking away a 58-45 victory. Fort Fairfield wasted no time jumping ahead, with a 13-point lead before the second quarter. Madawaska recovered though, bringing the game to a five-point difference moving into the fourth. Game-high points went to Noyes, who put away 24 for Fort Fairfield, and Austin Dufour and Sharpe added two 3-pointers to the score.
    With a 51-44 win against Easton, the Tigers are still at the head of their class. Saturday’s game was relatively close with the Bears attempting to close the gap in the third quarter. But Booth dominated on the court, shooting three 3-point goals and surprising Easton with six steals throughout the game. Noyes was on fire with rebounds as he grabbed 10 from underneath the basket and put 10 points away for the Tigers as well.
    In Monday night’s game at Limestone, the Tigers kept the Eagles under 20 before the half, only allowing a combined 10 points in the final two quarters. In the 79-30 win for Fort Fairfield, Sharpe had 17 points and Noyes put in 13. The Tigers were busy from the 3-point line as well, putting in seven total with help from A. Dufour, Dereck Dufour and Josh Churchill. For the Eagles, Brandon Hopkins led with three baskets for a total of 6 game points.
    The Lady Tigers have also kept their undefeated title this week, playing Hodgdon last Wednesday and Limestone/MSSM on Saturday.
    At Hodgdon, the Tigers held the Hawks off immediately and consistently, creating a 13-point gap before halftime and a final score of 54-31. Whitney Clark ended the game with 22 points, shooting four 3-point goals in the process, and Amanda Hotham followed with 11 points.
    Closing out their week in Limestone, the Lady Tigers ended that game with a 39-16 victory.
    The Central Aroostook Panthers boys and girls teams took wins Thursday night in their back-to-back games against Wisdom.
    Despite their 38-29 loss to Madawaska the night before, the Lady Panthers dominated over Wisdom. With Rachael Grew’s 19 points and Vicki McIntyre’s 15, Central Aroostook sealed a 64-23 win, keeping Wisdom scoreless in the third quarter.
    Leading the boys in their 69-52 edge over Wisdom was Kelly with 18 points. Martinez contributed two 3-point goals for a game total of 14 points.
    The boys’ varsity team played Saturday, overtaking Hodgdon 68-33. Martinez led on the court again with 20 points, making four successful 3-point shots. Kelly tacked on another 17 for the Panthers.
    In Presque Isle, the Wildcats doubled their score against Fort Kent last Wednesday with a final score of 66-33.
    Russ Mortland started off the scoring on two foul shots, and didn’t stop until he had given Presque Isle four baskets, two free throws and one 3-point goal for a total of 13 points, but Nate Ackerson led the team with 14 points. Dillon Kingsbury was able to net four points before leaving the game in the second half due to an injury, but a sprained ankle shouldn’t keep him out for long.
    Fort Kent slowed the pace of the game down considerably; the only thing fast about the game was the way Presque Isle was taking shots, but their speed around the basket may have limited their scoring abilities, as the Wildcats had to recover two or three times before netting the ball on any given attempt. If anything, it was a chance to practice rebounding.
    Coach Prescott attributed the offensive mistakes as a combination of high speed, low accuracy and simply going “too quickly” to the basket. Still, Presque Isle consistently shows improvement. “We’re trying to develop a full-court game, trying to push. I thought we played that pretty well at times throughout the night,” remarked Prescott. The Wildcats displayed the majority of their strength in their defense, limiting the Warriors to 20 points before the start of the fourth quarter.
    Over the weekend, Presque Isle’s boys’ varsity team traveled south, playing Mount Desert Island on Friday and Ellsworth on Saturday.
    The Wildcats jumped ahead of the Trojans in the first quarter, but MDI came back before the half, behind by two at 21-19. The Trojans, who were down by three, attempted and missed several shots during a fourth quarter possession and Nate Ackerson secured the game for the Wildcats at 42-38 with a final free throw. Ackerson contributed six additional points, and teammate Ethan Braley led with 15.
    On Saturday, Presque Isle defeated Ellsworth by 20 in a 60-40 victory. Led by Mortland, the Wildcats jumped to a significant lead by the third quarter. Mortland had four 3-point goals for a total of 21 points and Travis Dyer put away 14 with two additional 3-pointers.
    The Lady Wildcats traveled to Fort Kent Jan. 6, where their second-quarter lead carried them all the way to the end with a 55-52 win.
    At the end of the first quarter, Presque Isle was down by one but managed to reverse that just before the half with a 24-23 standing. The Wildcats pulled ahead by 10 before the fourth quarter, and spent the rest of the game making sure Fort Kent didn’t creep up too closely, finalizing a three-point lead and win at the buzzer.
    Wildcats Chelsea Nickerson and Sarah Porter helped to secure that win by each scoring 12 points after halftime for game totals of 14 points each. With a 3-pointer and 8 other points, Caitlin Esancy also added to Presque Isle’s score.
    The Wildcat girls traveled south as well, only their trip was not quite as successful as the boys’. Presque Isle defeated Ellsworth 63-21 on Friday, but lost to MDI 54-39 Saturday afternoon. Against Ellsworth, both Kayla Richards and Legassie contributed offensively for the Wildcats, who started off with a 17-point lead in the first eight minutes, and by half-time a 34-9 score left little room for doubt.
    But what the Wildcats achieved on Friday, they struggled to obtain Saturday, as the Mount Desert Island Trojans limited Presque Isle to shooting only 24 percent. The Wildcats came out strong initially, leading 10-6, but once the Trojans fell into the groove of the game, there was no stopping them. Legassie led P.I. with 14 points and Porter was only able to put in 11, as she spent most of the game trying to outmaneuver the Trojan defense.
    The home teams took the wins in the Easton vs. Ashland matchups last week. At Easton, the boys’ varsity team kept close until the third quarter, where the Bears moved ahead by eight, eventually defeating the Hornets 60-48. Senior Bear Brad Trask shot 9 out of 10 from the foul line and totaled 17 points for Easton. Teammate Sean Daniels came alive in the third quarter, putting away eight of his 15 points.
    Seniors Jeremy Tarr and Carl Nemer both netted three 3-point goals for Ashland. Tarr finished with 17 points and is well on his way to passing the 1,000 point mark.
    The Easton Lady Bears traveled to Ashland, where Hornet Suzie Poulin dominated on the court both offensively and defensively, stealing the ball at least five times and helping the Hornets over the Bears 40-18.
    Poulin’s 9-point game high pushed the Hornets ahead early, as Ashland kept Easton under 10 until the second half. Taylor Baker had seven points and rebounds for the Hornets. Leading the Bears were Sydney Trask and Ashley Babineau, with seven points a piece.
    At Easton, the Lady Bears took a 52-17 loss to Southern Aroostook over the weekend, with Ashley Nickerson putting in 6 points for Easton.
    The Ashland Lady Hornets fell at home to the Lady Beavers 44-22 on Saturday. Baker’s defensive abilities limited Beaver Rachel Palmer to only 9 game points, and the Hornets trailed the Beavers 20-14 at the half. But Washburn sophomore Rebecca Campbell led the Beavers both offensively and defensively. With 28 points and 24 rebounds, Campbell was unstoppable, and Washburn limited Ashland’s high scorers Jessica Jimmo and Macie Pelkey to six points each.
    Ashland coach Kevin Paradis took much away from this game. “This game showed us some areas that we need to work on. We did not hit enough of our side shots and could not convert our fast break opportunities. It actually was a fun game to watch because of the contrasting styles. I was very happy with the effort put forth from my girls-they played harder than I’ve seen them all year. We are looking forward to meeting them again,” he said. The Lady Hornets were off until last night, where they took on Van Buren.
    In Washburn, the Beavers overtook on the Eagles of Limestone/MSSM 52-40, with help from Nick McIntosh, who scored 22 points throughout the course of the night. Brandon Hopkins secured 21 points for Limestone, bringing the game to an eight-point difference as the teams moved into the fourth quarter. With help from Cody Frank and Matt Howe, the Beavers jumped ahead by 12 points before the final buzzer.         Washburn finished off Hodgdon 71-54 Friday night as McIntosh led the Beavers again with 28 points whose offense was reinforced by teammates Jordan McLaughlin and Connor Fitzpatrick who had 12 and 10 points respectively.
    Both Beaver teams traveled to the University of Maine, Presque Isle where they took on the Eagles from Greater Houlton Christian Academy Monday night. The girls started off the evening strong as Campbell and Palmer led Washburn with 22 and 12 points respectively. The Eagles played a strong defense, guarding Palmer until she was pulled in the third quarter. But she was put back in with minutes left to help the Lady Beavers take the 44-30 victory.
    The boys took the court for Washburn following the girls’ win. Washburn led at the end of the first eight minutes, but struggled in the second quarter, giving up the lead to GHCA. McIntosh led the Beavers past the Eagles in the third, scoring 13 of 23 points and moving Washburn ahead by five. The Beavers overcame the Eagles 53-50.


ImageStaff photo/Abigail Hunt 

TURNING AWAY FROM THE BLOCK, Panther Mitchell Folsom looks for an open pass away from Tiger senior Douglas Sharpe. 



Staff photo/Abigail HuntImage

FROM BEHIND, GHCA Eagle Selina Michaud reaches for the ball, pulling it behind Washburn sophomore Sarah Sjoberg as Beaver Lara Scott and Eagle Kasi Parker look on.