Hawks’ mettle tested

10 years ago

sp-hodgdon-dc10-pt-10REBOUND — Hodgdon’s Blake Woods attempts to get around Valley’s Cody Beane, as he tries to keep the ball in play during last Saturday’s Class D state championship game at the Augusta Civic Center. The Hawks withstood the threat from Valley for a 51-46 victory. The Hawks’ last gold ball season was in 1996.
By Joseph Cyr

Staff Writer
    AUGUSTA — It was a long time coming, but the Hodgdon Hawks can now proudly lay claim to the State Class D boys basketball crown.
    Hodgdon (20-3 overall) withstood a late-game surge by Valley of Bingham (17-5) to defeat the Cavaliers 51-46 in a thrilling game played at the Augusta Civic Center Saturday afternoon.

    Saturday’s championship was a nail-biter for Hawks fans, who saw a 17-point, third-quarter lead reduced to just one point in the final period. After all, it was just a year ago that the Hawks had an Eastern Class D title seemingly in their grasp, only to have Central Aroostook of Mars Hill steal the game in the final seconds, so déjà vu was sure to be on the minds of many Hodgdon faithful.
    This time around, however, the Hawks took care of business and secured the school’s first gold ball since moving back to the Class D ranks in the 2011-12 season.
    Hodgdon’s Chris Hudson, a 6-foot, 5-inch junior forward, led all players in scoring with 21 points, 17 rebounds, five blocks and three assists. Senior Tyler Sherman added eight points and six rebounds, while senior Deyrell Vargas chipped in seven points and four assists.
    Jordan Gillespie led Valley with 14 points, while Cody Laweryson and Teegan Staples each had eight.
    “We knew even though we were up 13 to start the fourth quarter that it wasn’t over,” Hodgdon coach Robbie Smith said. “They (Valley) came back in their championship game against Hyde from an 11-point deficit, so we knew we couldn’t let up.”
    “Valley made an excellent comeback and are just a great team,” Vargas said. “It was a rollercoaster.”
sp-hodgdon-dc12-pt-10PATIENTLY — Hodgdon’s Devon Quint waits and watches for a teammate to make a cut to the basket during the Class D state championship game at the Augusta Civic Center. The Hawks brought home the gold with a 51-46 win.
    Clinging to a 47-46 lead with 26 seconds to go, the Hawks turned a potential disaster into a positive. Hodgdon threw the ball away trying to make an inbounds pass giving the ball back to the Cavaliers. Valley’s Gillespie, the team’s leading scorer, lofted a jumper that was off the mark and Hawk junior Devin Quint dove for the loose ball. He was immediately tackled by a Valley defender and sent to the free throw line for a pair of foul shots. Quint made both of his free throws to put the Hawks up 49-46.
    Hudson then made the biggest play of his high school career, stealing the ball away from Gillespie at midcourt with 3.8 seconds to go. Hudson was fouled from behind as he raced down the floor. And as he has done so many times before, Hudson calmly sank both free throws for the decisive 51-46 score.
    “Wearing this net is the most amazing feeling in the world,” Sherman said. “I feel on top of the world right now.”
    Hodgdon opened the game in red-hot fashion seizing an 11-4 lead in the first five minutes, including a 9-0 scoring run that featured buckets from four different players — a layup by Hudson, jumpers from Keegan Gardner and Sherman and a 3-pointer from Vargas.
    The Hawks built their lead in the second quarter, outscoring the Cavaliers 13-6 for the period to take a 26-13 advantage into the locker room.
    Hodgdon continued to pad its cushion in the third period, amassing a 37-18 lead with 1:45 to play, but Valley refused to go quietly.
    In the final quarter, the two teams traded baskets early, but then it started raining 3-pointers for the Cavaliers as Lawyerson dropped a pair and Gillespie added another, to cut Hodgdon’s lead to 41-38 with 3:28 to play.
    “We weren’t really nervous, we just needed to calm down and make better passes,” Sherman said.
sp-hodgdon-dc1-pt-10SENIORS — Playing their last season of basketball for Hodgdon are seniors, from left, Deyrell Vargas, Tyler Sherman and Anthony Mazzacco. Vargas transferred to Hodgdon from Greater Houlton Christian Academy this season and has made special memories with his Hawk teammates.
    “We knew it was going to be a physical game,” Smith said. “These guys have had that ‘don’t quit’ attitude all year and we saw it again here today.”
    Hodgdon was 2-of-10 (20 percent) from behind the 3-point arc and sank 19 of 43 (44 percent) field goals. In comparison, Valley made four of 17 (24 percent) attempts from 3-point land and converted 18 of 55 (33 percent) field goals.
    Having the season come to an end was a bittersweet moment for coach Smith.
    “You spend three months in the winter and time in the summer with these kids so you get so attached to them,” Smith said. “Some of these guys I have had for a long time. To see them here celebrating today, it brings me so much joy.”
Championship Memories
    • In the team’s postseason run, Hodgdon outscored its opposition 268-193.
    • In winning the gold ball, the school now has its first Class D championship. Hodgdon High School’s previous state championships were won when the school competed in Class C, with the most recent being back-to-back titles in 1995 and 1996.
    • The Hawks finished strongly, winning their final 10 games (five in the regular season and five in the postseason).
    • Two of the team’s three losses on the regular season were to Class C state champs Houlton.
    • Losing just three seniors, the Hawks should once again be among the elite squads in Class D play next year.
    • The Hawks had two 1,000-point scorers on the squad with Vargas and Hudson both reaching the milestone this year.
    • One of the Hawks’ special fans, Larry Williams, an alum of Hodgdon High School who sweeps the floors at every home game, made the journey down to the Augusta Civic Center to watch the game.
    • As a lasting memory for their tournament accomplishments, members of the team were presented with championship hats and T-shirts by athletic director Wayne Quint following the game.

Pioneer Times photo/Joseph Cyr
sp-hodgdon-dc8-pt-10SCRAMBLE — Hodgdon’s Keegan Gardner and Valley’s Devon Gillespie scramble for a loose ball during the state Class D game in Augusta on Saturday.

HODGDON (51)
    Gardner 1-3 0-0 2, Vargas 3-10 0-0 7, Hudson 6-12 9-9 21, Palmer 1-4 0-0 2, Woods 3-4 0-1 6, Quint 1-3 2-3 5, Sherman 4-7 0-0 8.Totals:19-43 11-13 51. 3-pointers — Vargas, Quint.
VALLEY (46)
    Laweryson 3-9 0-2 8, J. Gillespie 3-13 6-8 14, Malloy 0-3 0-0 0, Staples 4-4 0-1 8, D. Gillespie 1-2 0-0 2, Miller 3-10 0-0 6, Belanger 3-12 0-0 6, Cates 0-0 0-1 0, Beane 1-2 0-0 2. Totals: 18-55 6-12 46. 3-pointers — Laweryson 2, J. Gillespie 2.
Hawks    13    13    11    14    —    51
Cavaliers    7    6    11    22    —    46