Wildcats knock off state champs with unlikely comeback

6 years ago

PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — Thanks to a furious second-half comeback, the Presque Isle boys basketball team swept their homestand against always-tough Hancock County opponents on Thursday and, at least for now, moved to the top of the Class B North rankings. 

The Wildcats overcame a 15-point halftime deficit by limiting previously-undefeated Mount Desert Island to two second-half field goals and a total of 15 points, en route to a 53-49 triumph.

It was PI’s fourth consecutive win, including Wednesday’s 65-42 victory over Ellsworth. The Trojans, the defending Class B state champions, lost for the first time after winning their first five games to begin the season.

Presque Isle trailed 36-19 early in the third quarter and was still down 40-28 midway through the period. The Wildcats proceeded to go on a 12-0 run over the ensuing 5:18 to tie the score. Griffin Guerrette’s long 3-pointer from the wing capped the rally, but teammates Jonah Hudson (four points) and Jason Dumais also came through with clutch scoring plays during the spurt.

The Wildcats never led until Guerrette canned a floater in the lane with 3:10 to play, making it 48-46. MDI had some chances down the stretch, but Hudson and Guerrette combined to go 5 for 6 from the foul line the rest of the way to hold onto the lead and complete the comeback.

Presque Isle was on the verge of an embarrassing loss in the first half, but Guerrette said coach Terry Cummings had some inspiring words during the halftime talk which paved the way for the win.

“He told us we looked dead and weren’t playing with any heart, and he challenged us,” said Guerrette, who finished with 22 points. “So in the second half, we picked up the intensity, and once we started coming at them, they couldn’t stop us.”

“The guys played a great second half defensively, and the key was they did it together and trusted one another,” said Cummings, “and as a coach, it was great to see.”

Hudson finished with 14 points, including a 6-for-6 effort from the foul line. Caleb Wheaton nailed a pair of 3-pointers and totaled nine points, while Dumais chipped in with six. PI came in shooting 50 percent from the foul line on the season but improved that by going 18 for 24 in the game.

Drew Shea scored 12 points and Derek Collin 10 for the Trojans.

In the girls’ game, the Wildcats were unable to gain momentum against the Trojans, who bounced back from an 11-point loss to Caribou the previous night to hand Presque Isle its first loss (after a 3-0 start) by a score of 51-33.

“I could tell in warmups that we weren’t as fired up as we were yesterday,” said PI coach Jeff Hudson, “and MDI played with an attitude, because they lost the night before.”

The Trojans tallied the game’s first 10 points, and after a 3-pointer by Madison Jandreau to end the first quarter scoring and a layup by Emily Wheaton to begin the second gave PI some life, MDI then went on a 13-4 run to regain control.

Presque Isle’s defense stiffened and they went on a 7-0 flurry midway through the third quarter to approach within nine (36-27), but Maddy Candage netted a pair of short jumpers in the final minute of the period as part of an 8-2 run that essentially iced it.

“I liked our execution on the offensive end,” said MDI coach Brent Barker. “We wanted to make [Presque Isle] play some defense, so we worked the ball around and pounded it inside.”

Candage tallied 15 points and Emily Banks 13 to lead the way for the 5-1 Trojans.

Wheaton struggled with her shooting but still ended up with a team-high 15 points for PI.

“I believe she’s one of the top three players in the state,” Barker said. “We just wanted to stop her dribble penetration in the paint and make it tough for her, and I thought our defense did a good job.”