Shires rise to challenge, beat Wildcats

11 years ago

Hodgdon, Houlton boys to square off day after Christmas at Alumni Gym
By Gloria Austin
Staff Writer

    The Houlton Shiretowners boys basketball team is off to a strong start, with a 3-0 record.
    The “Game of the Week” was last Wednesday in Presque Isle when the Shires took a 69-62 victory.
    “It was a point-worthy win,” said Houlton coach Rob Moran. “I thought we competed with them on the inside. They are bigger than us, so we really had to work to do that.”
    Moran noted key roles in the game were played by two big men, Dan Swallow and Elyjah Crockett.
    “Dan was a defensive presence and was huge on the glass,” added Moran. “Elyjah hit some big shots.”
    Junior Nick Guiod and sophomore Kyle Bouchard each turned in all-around good games, according to their coach.
    Bouchard was game-high scorer with 25 points.
    The Shires went an impressive 27-of-31 from the free throw line, which was another key in their win.
    “We really won the game from the foul line as opposed to losing the game,” said Moran.
    Even though Moran wants his players to celebrate the victory, he is cautious to remind them there is always room to get better.
    “We need to get better running half-court offense against a man-to-man,” Moran explained. “There is always room to improve on our man-to-man defense, which was solid, but it could be better.”
    Presque Isle’s Jonah Stephenson and Tyler Brooks each scored 17 points for the Wildcats.
    On Saturday, the Shires hosted Fort Kent. The Houlton boys picked up an easy 71-28 win.
    “They played a box-and-one against us [on Kyle],” explained Moran. “We handled it pretty well. We didn’t shoot the ball well and that is what usually helps against the box-and-one.”
    Even though the Shires struggled shooting the ball, coach Moran is not worried.
    “I know we will start shooting the ball better than we have as a team,” he said. “We missed a lot of layups that game and missed a lot of open outside shots, as well. Hopefully, we will shoot the ball better because it makes things easier.”
    Despite being marked, Bouchard finished with 22 points, along with Guiod scoring 11 points, while Isaiah Straubel dropped in eight. Swallow and Crockett took care of the glass, grabbing 12 rebounds each.
    The Shiretowners will be challenged this week, as they face Stearns at home Thursday at 7 p.m., followed by Mattanawcook Academy on Saturday in Lincoln at 2:30 p.m.   
    According to Moran, the Shires need to be ready to play.
    “Stearns is a very tough opponent,” he said. “They are a Class C team so it is an even more important game. We split with them last year. They are good sized, athletic and everyone is back from last year’s team.”
    To close out the year, the Shires will host Hodgdon at Alumni Gymnasium on Dec. 26 at 7 p.m. and be on the road to East Millinocket to meet Schenck on Dec. 29 at 7 p.m.
    Moran isn’t too sure of how well Mattanawcook Academy and Schenck will be on the hardwood.
    “I know Mattanawcook Academy had heavy graduation losses, but they have a good coach, and we can’t look past them,” he said. “Schenck has a new coach and most of their kids back from last year. They are big. We need to be ready.”
    And, one of the more highly anticipated games is Hodgdon.
    “They are having a great year,” said Moran. “It should be a good game against a solid team. Hopefully, both teams have a good year. It will be fun.”