Sports

Greenville boys outlast Woodland to end long state title drought

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AUGUSTA — They had waited 64 years to celebrate a state championship, but the wait didn’t stop there for the Greenville High School boys basketball program and its supporters.

Not until Gavin Gardner’s last-second 3-pointer from the right corner bounced off the rim and into the hands of Lakers’ center Devin Boone could they first take the deepest of breaths before exploding with joy Saturday, March 3 as Greenville escaped with a 47-46 victory over Woodland Junior-Senior High School of Baileyville in the Class D state final at the Augusta Civic Center.

“I was closing out on the kid shooting,” said Greenville senior forward Evan Bjork. “I almost had a heart attack, I’m not going to lie. It was pretty scary, but when I saw Devin get that rebound at the end of the game I knew we won.

“This is insane. It hasn’t quite sunk it yet but I can’t believe it.”

The championship is the first since 1954 for Greenville, which lost to Machias in last year’s state contest and dropped its first two regular-season outings this winter before winning its final 20 games.

“This is something we’ve been waiting for since we walked off the court after the state championship game last year,” said Lakers’ senior guard Nick Foley, who contributed 14 points and six assists to the victory. “We didn’t want to ever have that feeling again.”

Woodland, seeking its first Gold Ball since 2009, finished 18-4.

“We had our chances,” said Dragons’ coach Ben Maloney, “but credit (Greenville), they’re all seniors and they were in this position last year and took advantage of it this year.”

Greenville never trailed after jumping out to an 11-0 lead but was required to nurse that advantage to the very end as Woodland countered the Lakers’ size advantage with a willingness to push the pace whenever possible.

But while the Dragons never let Greenville pull away, they could never quite complete the comeback.

“We gave up some shots that we could have avoided but we didn’t panic,” said Greenville coach Bill Foley. “The kids did not panic.”

Woodland ultimately crept within two points late in the third quarter and then pulled within one when junior point guard Drew Hayward banked in a straightaway 3-pointer from beyond the top of the key to make it 47-46 with 23.6 seconds left in the game.

The Dragons then got the ball back on a steal, but a contested drive by Hayward came up short and Woodland was forced to foul, sending Nick Foley to the line with 7.3 seconds to go.

Foley missed the front end of a 1-and-1, giving Woodland one final chance.

Hayward came up with the loose-ball rebound and quickly dribbled down court before spotting Gardner alone for an open try from deep in the right corner with time running down.

“I don’t know if I’ll ever forgive myself for missing that last free throw,” said Foley. “When they had that open look my heart stopped. I was under the basket and from my spot it looked like it was going in. It looked good, but I can be thankful. It seemed like it took an eternity for it to get there.”

The 6-foot-4 Boone finished with game-high totals of 15 points and eight rebounds for Greenville while Bjork added 12 points on four 3-pointers — including two in a row after Woodland twice pulled within two points midway through the third quarter.

“Our game plan was to try to take Foley away but Bjork stepped up and made a couple of huge threes at the right time when we were making little runs, and Boone down low gave us problems because he’s so big and athletic for a big,” said Maloney.

Hayward, who missed much of the first half with foul trouble, finished with 13 points and five assists while Justin Worden, Woodland’s lone senior starter, had 10 points and seven rebounds.

“We had two chances at the end, one nice drive to the rim that didn’t fall and then that last shot,” said Maloney. “You just look to penetrate middle and if they come you kick it out and hope for the best. It didn’t fall this time, and hopefully for that junior group it will make them work harder to try and get back here next year.”

For Greenville, that next year is now.

“Before the game some members of the 1954 team, the last team from Greenville to win a state championship, gave us a talk about how it’s going to be something that we’re going to remember for the rest of our lives, and it’s just that,” said Nick Foley. “This means so much to ourselves and the community. It’s something to be proud of together.”

Members of the state championship team are seniors Evan Bjork, Devin Boone, Connor DiAngelo, Nick Foley, Anthony Mason and Noah Pratt, juniors Nick Caiazzo, Doug Kane and Nate Pierce, sophomores Noah Bilodeau, Chris Caiazzo, Law Hinckley and Jack Morehouse, coach Joseph Pelletier and head coach Bill Foley.

BOYS BASKETBALL
CLASS D
CHAMPIONSHIP
South 1. Greenville 47,
North 1. Woodland 46
WOOD 8 8 13 17 | 46
GRVL 13 9 14 11 | 47
Woodland: Hayward 13,
Worden 10, Phelps 8,
Gardner 7, Morrison 3,
Plissey 3, Miller 2.
Greenville: Boone 15,
Foley 14, Bjork 12,
N. Caiazzo 2, DiAngelo 2,
Pratt 2.
Records: Greenville 20-2,
Woodland 18-4.

Bangor Daily News photo/Troy R. Bennett
BRINGING A GOLD BALL UP TO MOOSEHEAD LAKE — The victorious Lakers of Greenville High School carry the team’s newly-won Gold Ball across the court in Augusta on Saturday after defeating Woodland for the Class D basketball championship. The final score was 47-46. The title ends a 64-year drought for the Greenville boys’ program as the 2017-18 team won its 20th consecutive game.

Bangor Daily News photo/Troy R. Bennett
BOONE WITH A GAME-HIGH 15 POINTS — Greenville’s Devin Boone tries to get around Woodland’s Justin Worden under the rim on Saturday at the Augusta Civic Center. The Greenville center would lead all players with 15 points to help the Lakers escape with a 47-46 victory in the 2018 Class D championship.

Bangor Daily News photo/Troy R. Bennett
GOING ALL OUT FOR A GOLD BALL — Greenville’s Connor DiAngelo, left, and Nick Foley scrap for the ball with Woodland’s Drew Hayward on Saturday afternoon. The Lakers held on for a 47-46 victory to win the Class D championship after falling in the state game one year prior.

Bangor Daily News photo/Troy R. Bennett
DOING THEIR JOB ON DEFENSE — Justin Worden of Woodland competes for a rebound with Nick Caiazzo, left, and Evan Bjork of Greenville.

Bangor Daily News photo/Troy R. Bennett
HOLY FOLEY — Nick Foley dribbles around Matthew Miller of Woodland during the 2018 Class D championship on Saturday, March 3 at the Augusta Civic Center. Foley would score 14 points to help the Lakers win 47-46, claiming the first state championship for the school since the baseball team earned top Class D honors in 2011.

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