Freshman Will Francis shook off a wrist injury to score 16 points and grab 15 rebounds as the visiting Orono Red Riots built an early lead and held on to edge Hermon 45-41 in a Big East Conference Class B North boys basketball matchup on Wednesday night.

The 6-foot-2 Francis had 10 points and 12 boards during the first half alone as 2-0 Orono built a 25-11 advantage.

Francis injured his left wrist during a fall in the final minute of the second quarter but continued to be an energetic force throughout the second half and concluded the contest making 7 of his 12 field-goal attempts and 2 of 3 from the free-throw line in his second varsity game.

“He plays with joy,” Orono coach Ed Kohtala said. “He loves being out there, and one of the things I told him early [this season] is adjusting to how hard you have to play and I think he’s taken that very much to heart.”

Francis’ older brother, sophomore guard Ben Francis, added 10 points for the Red Riots including his team’s only two 3-pointers of the game.

Senior forward Clark Pelletier paced 1-1 Hermon with 14 points, all after intermission. He missed his first three 3-point tries in the first quarter but went 4 of 5 from beyond the arc during the second half, including 3 for 3 during his 11-point third quarter when coach Mark Reed’s Hawks outscored Hermon 22-14 to pull within 39-33.

A follow-up shot by freshman Noah Schaff and a drive by sophomore point guard Pierce Walston helped Orono build its lead back to 43-34 early in the fourth quarter, and while the Red Riots scored just two more points over the final 5½ minutes, their defense limited Hermon to a pair of 3-pointers by Pelletier and junior guard Isaiah Jelks in the late going, Jelks’ trifecta coming in the final seconds.

“I thought they played tremendously hard,” Kohtala said of his team, which has just one senior and two juniors to go with seven sophomores and three freshmen. “Our pattern against Hermon is the first time we play them we’re just not ready. Coach Reed and [assistant] coach [Roger] Reed get those kids playing so hard, but our kids have seen it so they were at least ready to compete as hard as they needed to, and that was huge.”

Jelks finished with nine points while senior forward Trey Brown, who scored 30 points in Hermon’s season-opening win over Waterville, added six for Hermon.

Avatar photo

Ernie Clark

Ernie Clark is a veteran sportswriter who has worked with the Bangor Daily News for more than a decade. A four-time Maine Sportswriter of the Year as selected by the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters...