Bangor- The communities of Fort Fairfield and Washburn were both looking for something neither has seen in a long time on Saturday morning at the Cross Insurance Center, seeing their high school boys basketball team win a regional championship. Fort Fairfield ended the drought for one of the two towns, claiming their first regional title since 1988 with a 55-41 victory over Washburn in the Class D Eastern Maine championship game.
Wasburn pulled ahead early in this one on the play of Cameron Bragg, who had 8 first quarter points and the Beavers led by as much as 8 at 14-6. Fort Fairfield kept it close behind the play of their senior forward Hunter Beaulieu with 5 points in the opening frame but Washburn took an 18-13 into the second period of play.
Robbie Watson exploded early in quarter number two, he hit back to back three pointers during an 8-0 run and scored 8 points in a row to put Fort Fairfield on top 21-18. But a late quarter three pointer by Noah Farley and a basket and free throw from Bragg had the Beavers back up 26-25 at the break.
The second half was all Fort Fairfield outscoring Washburn 30-15, including 10-4 in the third period behind 4 more points from Beaulieu and 4 from Chris Giberson. Washburn went cold shooting the ball in the second half as the Tigers pressure defense seemed to bother the Beavers. Another 8 points from Beaulieu, 6 from Giberson and 5 from Isaac Cyr helped lead a 20-11 fourth quarter in favor of Fort Fairfield and secured the 14 point victory. Solid foul shooting down the stretch put the game on ice as the Tigers shot 12-15 from the line in the final period (including 6-6 for Giberson) and overall 15-19 from the charity stripe in the contest while Washburn shot only 8-14 in the ballgame.
Coach Logan McLaughlin after the game, “Most of the year we played man to man defense, played a little zone. This game I kinda wanted to mix it up a little bit, keep them off balance. We started in a 3-2 zone, went to man to man then went to the 1-3-1 zone, in the first half I was kinda feeling it out see what would work the best, so the 1-3-1 was working great so we will start with that in the second half the boys never had to come out of it, they worked hard. When asked on Washburn only getting 4 points in the third quarter, McLaughlin said, “They couldnt penetrate or get the ball inside, not that they werent working hard, we just kept them off balance which is exactly what we wanted, it worked great.”
Washburn, who finishes at 18-3, Bragg had 15 points, Jarrett Olson had 11 and Noah Caron also chipped in 10. For the Tigers of Fort Fairfield, who improve to 18-4, Beaulieu finished with 19 points (12 in second half) Giberson had 16 and Watson finished with 10.
Fort Fairfield will now face Western Maine Champion Forest Hills (21-0) in the state title game next Saturday at 2:45 pm at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor.