STANDISH—The Scots turned a pair of steals into a run – the game’s decisive run – early in the third when Massabesic came to town for a tournament quarterfinal on Thursday night, Feb. 14. Sure, the Mustangs had tied things up only moments prior, but that didn’t stop a battalion of Bonny Eaglers from finding a groove and running away with the W: Zach Maturo, Jake Humphrey, Nate Ferris, Cam Gardner and Will Hendrix assembled the requisite offensive push and the home team eventually emerged victorious, 49-34.
“They’re a good team,” Bonny Eagle head coach John Trull said of Massabesic. “Coach Blodgett did a good job with them, and they’re a young group, and they play hard and they never think they’re out of games. So we knew it was going to be a challenge.”
Maturo led the Scots’ scoring, with 14. Humphrey and Gardner each added nine on the night, while Ferris and Hendrix had six, Jack Bean three and Logan Fogg two.
Massabesic’s Trevor Beals – Bean spent much of the evening guarding him, and did an excellent job of it – earned the game-high, 16, just two more than Maturo. But Beals’s compatriots couldn’t provide the extra push the Mustangs needed to survive their hosts, with Owen Roberts turning in the team’s next-best total, seven.
The majority of the first quarter unfolded as a flurry of steals and missed shots. Gardner opened the scoring with a three; Bonny Eagle then went up 4-0 on a Ferris free-throw before Beals added Massabesic’s first points and made it 4-2. The tally hung there for several minutes.
“We didn’t really shoot it well tonight,” Trull said. “I think we were four of 25 from three.”
“We just weren’t making shots,” Bean, a senior, said of the Scots’ off stretches. “We were still playing good defense, we just need to make our shots. We’ll extend leads much further than five, 10 points.”
Finally, the Scots broke into their first big run of the evening: Maturo hit a two around 2:39, then grabbed a defensive rebound, dashed upcourt and dished – across, no-look – to Gardner for two more.
8-2, and the Mustangs took timeout; when the teams returned to the floor, Owen hit a spin-jumper for the visitors, but BE closed the first with five more points, a Maturo three and a Humphrey steal-into-two.
13-4 at the dawn of the second. The Scots jumped a little further forward on a Bean three before Massabesic began to claw back, inching to 16-6 on a couple of Ethan Roy frees, 16-8 on a Beals jumper from the paint and 16-11 on a Ben Samson three. The Mustangs pulled within one – at 19-18 – on an Owen two, but Fogg closed the half for BE with satisfying little buzzer-beater two. 21-18.
“They did a great job defensively,” Trull said of the Mustangs. “They’re a very good defensive team. And we know guys are going to try to shut down Zach and Jake, you know; it’s not a secret. So we have other guys that can step up and are ready to play and make shots. And if they’re not making shots, we’ll go offensive rebound and things like that. Guys have done a good job; we’re playing pretty confidently outside of Jake and Zach – which is awesome.”
“You can’t make every shot,” Bean said. “You just gotta keep playing hard. We’re really good at that – we play as hard as we can, all the time.”
Beals kicked off the third with a three, tying the score at 21-all.
“He does a great job catching and shooting,” Trull said, asked about keeping Beals in check. “He’s a really good player. He’s a sophomore, I believe, so he’ll be a problem for us in the future.”
“But Jack did a good job closing him out,” Trull said of Bean’s guarding Beals. “Jack does a lot of things, like tipping the ball or setting back screens or taking charges, that don’t really show up in the box score. Beals is going to get points, we knew that; we just tried to contest everything he had.”
“I was guarding Beals,” Bean said. “He’s a good player; he’s always trying to post up, he’s a good finisher, he’s a good shooter. He’s a physical guy, too.”
Massabesic had battled back: The momentum seemed to be in their hands; would the seven-seed actually manage an upset over the two-seed?
Nope. Bonny Eagle recovered their mojo just then – recovered the command over the court they’d displayed for much of the first half. Maturo began it with a jumper from the paint; Beals hit one from the line, next, but then the Scots turned a pair of crucial, crowdpleasing steals. On the first, Humphrey dished upcourt to Ferris, Ferris across to Maturo and Maturo back to Ferris, who lay-upped a bucket. Gardner then capitalized on the second for 27-22.
“We knew it would be physical,” Trull said, asked about the Scots’ expectations heading into the contest. “We knew they’re pretty patient on offense – they don’t really take bad shots. We knew that offensively we’d have to play well; we didn’t play our best, offensively, so we had to dig it in on the defensive end and really pay attention to defensive rebounding and eliminating their second-chance points and contesting all their jump-shots.”
Hendrix made it 29-22, but the Mustangs clawed a bit closer after that, reaching 29-25. That proved to be the visitors’ last gasp, however: BE proceeded to pull further and further away as the third lapsed into the fourth: Maturo hit a two, Humphrey turned a nimble midcourt steal into two more, Maturo hit another two then converted a steal into a quick, pretty three-pointer – almost casual – from the top of the arc. 35-25.
By the time the end-game buzzer tolled, the Scots had cranked their 10-point upper-hand to a 15-point one: 49-34 the final. It was BE’s third win in three matchups vs. Massabesic this season.
“We had a lot of confidence (coming in),” Bean said. “We already played them twice, beat ‘em twice. We thought we were going to the Civic Center.”
“It was a good a game,” Trull said. “We were able to pull away late, but it was definitely a dogfight…To win a game by 15 and not shoot well, it’s pretty impressive, if you look at it that way.”
Bonny Eagle advances on the triumph to 16-3 this winter. The Scots will meet South Portland (No. 3 at 11-8) on Tuesday evening at the Cross Insurance Arena in Portland. When BE clashed with the Riots back on Jan. 12, they fell in a big way, 58-25.
But a lot can change in a month.
Adam Birt can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter: @CurrentSportsME.
Cam Gardner fires off an outside try.
Will Hendrix takes an inside shot for the Scots.
Chase Graves pulls the trigger on a jumper.
Will Hendrix powers inside.
Jack Bean defends as a Massabesic attacker begins a trek upcourt.
Nate Ferris fires off a shot.
Nate Ferris tries for two.
Jake Humphrey launches into a bucket attempt.
Zach Maturo explodes toward the net.
Zach Maturo fires off a jumper.
Jake Humphrey ascends toward the net.
Cam Gardner posts up inside.