February 22

Zone defense and up-tempo offense sink Maranacook

Maranacook ‘died by the 3.’

By Bill Stewart bstewart@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer

AUGUSTA — Maranacook used its athleticism, tough defense and dangerous shooting to make a deep run through the Western C boys tournament.

click image to enlarge

Defense: Maranacook senior guard Taylor Wilbur, right, drives around Wayneflete sophomore guard Milo Belleau during the Class C West girls championship game on Saturday at Augusta Civic Center.

Staff photo by Joe Phelan

On Saturday night, it watched Waynflete use that same recipe to bounce the Black Bears from postseason play.

Serge Nyirikamba finished with 22 points, 14 rebounds and three blocks to lead No. 3 Waynflete past No. 5 Maranacook 62-38 in the Western C championship game at the Augusta Civic Center.

“It was intense,” said Nyirikamba, whose team lost in the Western C final to Boothbay last season. “We just came out fired up. Our defense set the tempo for the game. This feels awesome.”

Harry Baker-Connick scored 17 points to go along with seven rebounds for the Flyers (18-2). Joseph Schnier chipped in with 10 points as well for Waynflete, which will play Houlton in the Class C state title game next Saturday.

Taylor Wilbur, who struggled early before finding his shot in the third quarter, scored a team-high 15 points for Maranacook (16-6).

Waynflete held Kent Mohlar and Cam Brochu to seven and five points, respectively. Maranacook shot just 4 for 18 from 3-point range.

“Sometimes you live and die by the 3, and tonight we died by it,” Maranacook coach Rob Schmidt said. “Their defense was just really, really good. We had a hard time with it all night. They cut off the open looks. We’ve seen a few zones this year but nothing like theirs.”

Added Wilbur: “It just wasn’t our night. Our shots weren’t falling and they finished everything. Serge, he’s tough. Props to him and his team. They played great.”

Nyirikamba and the Flyers played what coach Rich Henry called an “expanded zone” on the Black Bears.

The plan worked as the normally strong shooting Black Bears struggled to find open looks anywhere on the court.

“We took (Wilbur) and (Brochu) out of the game,” Nyirikamba said. “When we took those two out of the game, we just kept going and going. We played at a high tempo and even though they do, too, we weren’t going to stop.”

The Flyers started strong and finished stronger.

Nyirikamba, a 6-foot-3 forward, scored 11 points and grabbed seven rebounds in the first quarter alone. He scored six more in the second quarter to help Waynflete take a commanding 35-22 lead into halftime.

The Black Bears got within 10 points — 48-38 — when Brochu hit a 3-pointer just two minutes into the fourth quarter.

However, the quick-footed Flyers closed out the Bears and the game with a 14-0 run.

“We had a game plan and we executed it,” Henry said.

Maranacook trailed just 7-6 when Nyirikamba and the Flyers gained separation with an 11-3 lead late in the opening quarter.

Nyirikamba had eight points in the run, including a 3-point play that illustrated his athletic ability.

With 2:40 remaining in the quarter, Nyirikamba deflected a 3-point shot from Wilbur, picked up the loose ball and drove the length of the floor for a layup.

He drew the foul and buried the free throw to give Waynflete an 18-9 lead.

“We just kept attacking,” he said.

The Flyers led 19-13 after the first quarter and continued to push the pace in the second.

They used a 10-5 run to go up 29-18, highlighted by a Baker-Connick deep 3-pointer from the wing.

While the Flyers seemingly couldn’t miss, nothing fell for the Black Bears.

They shot a dismal 2 for 11 behind the arc in the first half. Wilbur had just six points when the teams headed to the locker room.

“We had a great season,” Schmidt said. “They exceeded my expectations. We just ran into a really good team.”

Bill Stewart — 621-5640bstewart@centralmaine.comTwitter: @billstewartkj
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