AUGUSTA, Maine — Taking a 3-point shot involves an element of risk given the arc’s distance from the basket and the odds against being consistently successful for most shooters.
But don’t try telling that to the Oceanside Mariners, who used a record-setting effort from 3-point land to win the school’s first Class A North boys basketball title Friday afternoon.
Coach Matt Breen’s club made 10 of 23 shots from 3-point distance and combined that with strong interior defense to oust neighboring rival and defending champion Medomak Valley of Waldoboro 59-45 in the regional final at the Augusta Civic Center.
“It’s just what we love to do,” said senior center Nick Mazurek, one of six Oceanside players to make a 3-pointer in the game. “We love to shoot from anywhere. We like to catch the ball and throw it in from no matter where we are, and we’re good at it.”
Senior point guard and tournament MVP Keenan Hendricks choreographed the Oceanside attack, scoring 15 points and dishing out eight assists — with seven of those passes setting up 3-point goals.
Nate Raye made three 3-pointers en route to a 13-point effort, while Mazurek scored 10 points, Sam Atwood had three 3-pointers for nine points, and Riley Sprague scored eight.
The Mariners finished their three-game regional tournament run with 29 3-pointers, easily eclipsing the former Eastern/North Class A mark of 24 set by Bangor in 1997.
“That’s what we do, that’s the style we play,” said Oceanside coach Matt Breen. “We’re strong on the perimeter with good shooters and we have to take advantage of that.”
Fifth-seeded Oceanside, which was formed in 2011 from the merger of Rockland and Georges Valley of Thomaston high schools, will take a 16-5 record into the Feb. 27 state championship game at the Cross Insurance Arena in Portland against the winner of Saturday night’s Class A South final between No. 2 Falmouth and No. 4 Brunswick.
Third-seeded Medomak Valley, which had won regional titles in 2013 and 2015, finished 17-4 after having its 13-game winning streak snapped.
Oceanside led 24-20 after a back-and-forth first half, then amped up its defense to take charge midway through the third quarter.
Key to that effort was the work of reserve forward Michael Norton Jr., a sophomore who contributed two key steals during a 12-0 Mariners’ run that expanded their lead to 41-28 late in the third quarter.
“The kid’s just instant energy,” said Breen. “He’s quick and he gets to plays where the offense doesn’t think he’s going to get there. He just finds a way, and his intensity and spark off the bench lifted everybody else.”
Medomak Valley pulled within 29-28 on a jumper by Zach Starr with 4:31 left in the third quarter but then went scoreless for more than three minutes as Oceanside gained momentum.
Hendricks fed Mazurek for a hook shot from the lane and Atwood followed with two 3-pointers within 33 seconds as the Mariners’ lead grew to 37-28 and forced a Medomak Valley timeout with 2:25 left in the period.
Panthers’ center Cam Allaire (eight points, four blocks) then drew his fourth foul and had to sit, opening the lane for Hendricks to work his crossover dribble and get to the rim for back-to-baskets to extend the margin to double digits at 41-28.
Medomak Valley got within 42-35 on a low-post move by Nicholas DePatsy (14 points) early in the fourth quarter, but another drive by Hendricks and back-to-back 3-pointers by Raye restored Oceanside to a 50-36 cushion with four minutes left.
“We’ve played against these guys ever since we were little, the same group of guys,” said Hendricks, whose teams split two regular-season games with Medomak Valley. “We just had to go out there and have fun and not worry about whether it was a championship game, and that’s what we did.”