Orono's Noah Schaff (middle) reaches for the ball as John Bapst's Jordan Kimball (right) and Eduardo Fiore defend. Credit: Joseph Cyr / Houlton Pioneer Times

BANGOR, Maine — A second-half scoring explosion catapulted the No. 2 Orono boys to a 56-39 victory over No. 11 John Bapst Wednesday evening in a Class B North semifinal.

Orono (18-3 overall) advances to the Class B North championship, 3:45 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 26, at the Cross Insurance Center.

Wednesday evening’s semifinal was a tale of two halves as Orono rallied from a 26-19 halftime deficit with a sensational second half. The Red Riots played with a much greater intensity in the second half, and that effort paid dividends.

“I reminded my guys that Bapst was playing with house money,” Orono coach Ed Kohtala said. “They were playing well, with a ton of confidence. I think we got a little caught up in being the favorite.”

John Bapst’s Levi Peterson (left) and Orono’s Pierce Walston get tangled going for a rebound Wednesday in a Class B North semifinal. Credit: Joseph Cyr / Houlton Pioneer Times

Orono went on a 10-2 run in the third quarter, taking over the lead with 2:56 to play on a layup by sophomore Ben Francis and never looked back.

Orono has been solid thus far in the playoffs, rolling to a 75-30 victory over No. 15 Belfast in the preliminary round, but struggling to a 59-54 win over No. 7 Winslow in the quarterfinals.

Sophomore Pierce Walston poured in a game-high 24 points, including three shots from behind the 3-point arc to lead Orono. Francis chipped in with 16 points in a solid all-around effort.

Rounding out the scoring for Orono were Javier Santiago with seven points, Sebastian Vanidestrine with three, and two each by Lucas Allen, Ellis Spaulding and Will Francis.

“We knew we had to do a better job rebounding [in the second half],” coach Kohtala said. “In our two games with [Bapst] they really hurt us on the offensive glass and they did that in the first half of this game too.”

Going in for a scoop layup is Orono’s Pierce Walston in the first half of Wednesday’s Class B North semifinal against John Bapst at the Cross Insurance Center. Defending is John Bapst’s Kevin Austin. Credit: Joseph Cyr / Houlton Pioneer Times
Driving to the baseline is Orono’s Ben Francis while guarded by Eduardo Fiore during Wednesday night’s Class B North semifinal at the Cross Insurance Center. Credit: Joseph Cyr / Houlton Pioneer Times

The coach added that with such a young roster — Orono has just one senior — nerves can sometimes get the better of them. That trend is something he hope will work its way out as the team advances to the regional championship.

“Our youth sometimes shows when we are not scoring,” Kohtala said. “They then take that frustration out on the other end of the floor.”

For John Bapst, Eduardo Fiore led the way with 14 points, followed by Corey Butler with 11; Kevin Austin, four; Jordan Kimball and Zach Norman both had three; and Nick Chaffee and Jon Pangburn both had two.

Orono’s Cadin Ewer-Cousins (right) has his arm grabbed by John Bapst’s Levi Peterson during Wednesday’s Class B North semifinal at the Cross Insurance Center. Credit: Joseph Cyr / Houlton Pioneer Times

John Bapst was rolling on all cylinders — leading 17-7 at the end of the first quarter, thanks to strong 3-point shooting by Butler and Kimball. It was Crusader Fiore, however, who had the hottest hand as he poured in nine points in the first quarter alone. Fiore finished with a team-high 14 points.

The two teams split during the regular season, with Orono winning 50-43 at Orono and John Bapst victorious 56-50 in overtime at home.

John Bapst had been hot of late, winning its preliminary playoff 57-47 over No. 6 Houlton and knocking off No. 3 Foxcroft Academy, 56-45, in the quarterfinals.

John Bapst finishes with a 10-11 overall record.

John Bapst’s Eduardo Fiore (right) comes down with a rebound while guarded closely by Orono’s Javier Alicea Santiago during Wednesday night’s Class B North semifinal at the Cross Insurance Center. Credit: Joseph Cyr / Houlton Pioneer Times