Eduardo Fiore had never experienced excitement quite like Maine’s high school basketball tournament in his native Venice, Italy.
He didn’t know what to expect, so the senior guard created his own excitement in leading 11th-seeded John Bapst of Bangor to its second upset in the opening days of postseason play, a 56-45 victory over No. 3 Foxcroft Academy in a Class B North quarterfinal at the Cross Insurance Center on Friday evening.
Fiore scored 20 points and grabbed 12 rebounds as No. 11 John Bapst of Bangor upended No. 3 Foxcroft Academy of Dover-Foxcroft 56-45 in a Class B North boys basketball quarterfinal at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor.
Fiore made all six shots he took during his 14-point first half, including two 3-pointers as the Crusaders took a 21-20 lead into intermission.
And he rebounded all night while helping John Bapst largely limit Foxcroft to one shot per possession while securing the team’s first regional quarterfinal victory since 2008.
“I love crashing the boards,” he said. “It’s just my instincts. The offensive part, I was just having fun. I was just letting the shot flow out of my hands and my teammates trust me and they let me create my opportunities. Most of the time I can drive into the lane or kick it out and they’re ready and they can shoot the ball. Sometimes we make it, sometimes we miss it. It’s basketball.”
Jon Pangburn added 14 points, including a clutch 11 of 14 effort from the free-throw line in the fourth quarter that began with nine consecutive makes to help coach Ed Jones’ club pulled away.
“Jon is a really underrated shooter because most of the time he gives up his shots to create opportunities for me,” Fiore said. “I’m really thankful for him, he’s the best point guard I’ve ever played with. He’s a really good shooter though, and in clutch moments like that he just went up and closed the game.”
Jordan Kimball chipped in 10 points for the victors, all in the second half.
Foxcroft got 20 points from Filip Brkic and 10 from Caden Crocker.
John Bapst, which upset No. 6 Houlton 57-47 in the Round of 16, will next play No. 2 Orono and in Wednesday’s 7 p.m. semifinal.
Foxcroft, which had defeated John Bapst twice on back-to-back nights late in the regular season, finishes with a 14-5 record.
Fiore scored 10 first-quarter points for John Bapst, including a ¾-court 3-pointer at the buzzer to give the Crusaders a 17-11 lead at the end of the opening period.
“Can I be honest with you,” said Fiore of the shot. “That a little bit of weight room, and pure luck. I saw the clock and I just let it fly and the ball went in. I didn’t know how to react.”
But led by Crocker, Foxcroft kicked up its defense during the second eight minutes, limiting John Bapst to a pair of field goals while the Ponies outscored the Crusaders 10-4 to draw within 21-20 at halftime.
Foxcroft was still within 31-28 entering the fourth quarter, but Nick Chaffee opened the final period with a 3-pointer and Fiore converted a steal into two free throws to give John Bapst a quick 36-28 cushion.
A Brkic 3-pointer cut Foxcroft’s deficit to five, but the Ponies got no closer the rest of the way as Bapst soon built its lead back to 10 and Pangburn preserved that cushion at the free-throw line.