Penobscot Valley’s Ryan Thompson attempts a shot by George Stevens defenders Azaiah Nanson (left) and Teague Smallidge (#21) in first half action of the boys Class C North quarterfinal game at the Cross Insurance Center Wednesday. Credit: Linda Coan O'Kresik / BDN

Strong defense and rebounding typically are prerequisites for success at the high school basketball tournament.

A hot long-range shooting touch is often important, too.

Sophomore guard Patrick Dagan made six 3-pointers and the George Stevens Academy defense yielded just three points in the second half as the Blue Hill-based Eagles pulled away from Penobscot Valley of Howland 44-18 in a Class C North boys basketball quarterfinal Wednesday morning at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor.

George Stevens Academy celebrates their 44-18 victory over Penobscot Valley in the boys Class C North quarterfinal game at the Cross Insurance Center Wednesday. Credit: Linda Coan O'Kresik / BDN

Second-ranked GSA (16-2) will face No. 11 Central of Corinth in Friday night’s regional semifinals. No. 10 Penobscot Valley finished its season at 9-9.

Dagan finished with a game-high 20 points for coach Dwayne Carter’s club, shooting 7 of 12 overall and 6 of 9 from beyond the arc.

“It’s fun, but I’ve got to credit my teammates,” Dagan said. “They got me the ball when I was open, and it’s nice to have teammates find you when you’re hot.”

Penobscot Valley High School students Maddie Lindsay, Shay Ireland and Kaya Loring (left to right) cheer on the boys during their Class C North quarterfinal game against George Stevens Academy at the Cross Insurance Center Wednesday. Credit: Linda Coan O'Kresik / BDN

Junior forward Azaiah Nanson, who has been battling injury issues in recent weeks, came off the bench to add eight points and eight rebounds for George Stevens, while 6-foot-7 senior center Teague Smallidge had eight points and six boards.

Senior center Ryan Thompson led Penobscot Valley with seven points and a game-high 14 rebounds as he did all he could do against a towering GSA frontcourt led by Smallidge, the 6-foot-5 Nanson and 6-foot-3 senior Bryce Schneider.

The Howlers hung within 18-15 at the half, but GSA’s switch to a zone defense after intermission proved devastating as PVHS managed just a single field goal by Thompson in the third quarter and a free throw by Thompson in the fourth quarter.

From left: George Stevens’ Sol Lorio takes the ball down the court during second half action of the boys Class C North quarterfinal game against Penobscot Valley; George Stevens’ Patrick Dagan passes the ball past Penobscot Valley’s Gabe Reed in first half action of the boys Class C North quarterfinal game at the Cross Insurance Center Wednesday. GSA won the game 44-18. Credit: Linda Coan O’Kresik / BDN

GSA mounted two separate 10-0 runs while outscoring PCHS 26-3 in the second half.

“We just weren’t quite doing what we wanted to do defensively in the first half, so I felt like we should switch it up because we’re huge, we cover a lot of space with that zone and we play it well,” Carter said, whose team played without leading scorer David Gadsby, a senior guard sidelined by a knee injury.

“I felt like if we did that we could control their play a lot more and maybe get some fast breaks out of it.”

Dagan’s eight points were the offensive difference during the first half, with his second 3-pointer capping off an early run of 10 unanswered points that gave the Eagles a 12-6 lead at the end of the first quarter.

Dagan came out even hotter from long range to start the second half, shooting 4-of-4 from beyond the arc during the third quarter to complement the smothering George Stevens defense as the Eagles outscored PVHS 16-2 in the period to build a 34-17 lead.

“We really tried to limit rebounding for them,” Dagan said. “We boxed out a lot more, and I don’t think they got many second-chance points in the second half.”

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...