BANGOR, Maine — The Machias boys basketball team’s 2016 tournament debut began with a slam dunk, and it only got better from there.
The second-ranked Bulldogs scored 27 unanswered points during one first-half stretch Monday morning en route to a 68-26 victory over Downeast Athletic Conference rival Shead of Eastport in a Class D North quarterfinal at the Cross Insurance Center.
The win was the fourth of the winter for Machias over seventh-seeded Shead, and advances coach Jim Getchell’s club to Thursday’s regional semifinals against No. 3 Southern Aroostook of Dyer Brook. Southern Aroostook defeated No. 6 Central Aroostook of Mars Hill 51-45 earlier Monday.
Machias began the contest with a considerable height advantage over Shead with its front line of 6-5 sophomore Jacob Godfrey and 6-3 juniors James Mersereau and Mark Anthony.
The Bulldogs complemented that size with the perimeter shooting of Jordan Grant and unselfish ball movement — Machias had 21 assists on its 27 field goals.
“We try to keep everyone involved, and everyone’s bought into the idea that when we have five guys on the floor all five can score,” said Getchell. “It’s very hard to play any kind of junk defense or special defense when you’ve got five guys who can score and are also willing to give it up.”
Grant, a 5-7 sophomore on the seniorless Machias roster, made three 3-pointers en route to 12 first-quarter points against Shead and finished with a game-high 23.
“It just opened the inside game up,” said Getchell. “Grant’s probably has gotten the least credit of anybody on our team all year long, but after today they’ll probably look at him a little more.”
Godfrey finished with 17 points on 7-of-9 shooting from the field as well as eight rebounds and four blocked shots, while Mersereau finished with eight points, seven assists and six rebounds while Anthony contributed five points and seven rebounds.
“Our chemistry makes everything work,” said Mersereau.
Mersereau converted a steal by Grant into an emphatic slam dunk to provide the game’s first two points. Godfrey and Anthony followed with inside baskets to force a quick Shead timeout, but it did little to slow the Bulldogs’ momentum.
Back-to-back baskets by Matthew Harris and Darren Turner kept the Tigers within 12-6 midway through the first quarter, but Shead went scoreless for the next 8 minutes, 59 seconds as Machias used its trapping defense to force numerous turnovers — which led to 27 consecutive points and a 39-6 lead.
“There’s not one of us who doesn’t know how to trap and it does translate into our offense because we’re a run-and-gun team,” said Mersereau.
Harris and Riley Demolet each scored six points for 11-8 Shead.