Bangor- The Eastern Maine basketball tournament certainly saved the best for last. In one of the best games in recent memory, Tyler Niles scored 29 points as the Calais Blue Devils outlasted the Orono Red Riots in overtime 60-57 to capture its first Eastern Maine title since 2009.
Calais drew first blood in the opening quarter. In a back and forth game in the first 8 minutes of play, Andre Pauls putback late gave Calais some breathing room and their biggest lead at 17-9. Nate Desisto and Damian Heeger made back to back to three point shots to finish off the scoring to cut the lead to 17-15 headed to the second period.
Jake Koffman would finish an Orono 8-0 run to tie the game at 17 with a strong move down low. Heeger would catch fire and he scored half of the Riots next 10 points, 2 field goals including a three pointer and Orono would outscore the Devils 10-5 the rest of the half to take their biggest lead into the halftime locker room at 27-22.
Paul and Niles would both score 5 points in the third quarter and a Paul three pointer would eventually tie the game at 35 with 2 minutes left in the period. Sensational sophomore Kennan Collett had a solid quarter of play for the Riots making several nice cuts to the basket for 6 points and his last driving basket put Orono up again 37-36, but that was short lived. On the Riots next possession, Nathan Newell would snatch a steal from Nate Desisto and go the length of the floor for a layup with 1:15 left in the third. That would be the last points of the third stanza and Calais was clinging to a 1 point lead headed into the fourth.
In a dramatic last quarter, Camron Hines and Desisto opened with baskets for Orono only to be followed up with a 5-0 Calais run with all the points scored by Miles (conventional three point play and a layup). Miles would score 9 of the 11 Calais point in the final 8 minutes. After trading baskets Calais held a 47-45 lead, until Heeger got fouled and fired up an off balance wild jumpshot that banked in off the glass, he made the free throw to complete the hoop and harm and Orono had a 48-47 lead with 1:42 left. Miles again 15 seconds later made a tough move down low to put Calais back up a point at the 1:27 mark. After an Orono miss, Newell got fouled and tried to give Calais a 3 point cushion from the foul line but he missed both with 1:15 left. Jake Koffman got fouled down low and converted 1 of 2 from the line with 52 seconds left and the game was tied at 49. A turnover by Calais gave Orono a chance for maybe a final shot with 40 seconds left. Heeger tried a three pointer but the ball bounced off the rim. Orono was able to get a jump ball in the wild scramble off the miss shot and get possession again with 27 seconds left. A Calais steal though with 19 seconds remaining would give the Blue Devils a chance to win it. Niles shot bounced off the back of the rim with 6 seconds left and in the ensuing scramble the final seconds would tick off the clock and the teams would head to overtime.
After hitting only 4 of 9 from the foul line in regulation including 3 for 7 in the final quarter, Niles would be impossible for Orono to stop in the 4 minute overtime session. His tough moves down low forced some fouls by the Red Riots and Miles, with his team in the double bonus, would cash in. His 9 for 10 effort from the line would give Calais a 58-53 lead with only a minute remaining. Orono would get 1 for 2 from the line from Koffman to cut it to 58-54 with less than 20 seconds left. Paul would hit 2 of 2 from the line to make it 60-54 but a Jackson Coutts three pointer would make it 60-57 with only 2 seconds left on the clock. After an Orono timeout, all Calais had to do was inbound the ball, but Newell was called for a team control foul for pushing off on Desisto and Orono had life and one more chance to send it to a second overtime. Desisto would take the pass and fire up an off balance three at the buzzer from the left wing, but the ball hit off the side of the rim and the Blue Devils escaped.
Orono, who finishes their season and improbable tournament run at 14-8, Heeger and Collett both finished with 17 points, Hines had 8 and Desisto also chipped in 6. For Calais, who improves to 19-2, along with the big night from Niles, Paul finished with 13 points, Kyle Johnson had 6 and Newell also contributed 5.
Calais will now face Dirigo High out of Dixfield, the Western Maine champs are also 19-2, next Saturday night at 8:45 pm at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor.