No. 3 Orono used its defense on Wednesday afternoon to earn a 42-31 victory over No. 7 Presque Isle and advance to its second Class B North regional final in a row.
The Red Riots (17-3) held the Wildcats to their lowest point total of the season.
Orono will face the winner of No. 1 Ellsworth (19-0) and No. 4 Old Town (17-2) on Saturday.
Orono had a strong defensive game plan for Presque Isle’s Malachi Cummings, who after scoring 27 points in the Wildcats’ quarterfinal win over No. 2 Winslow, shot just 3-for-12 in the first half.
“Guys were able to go out and execute,” Orono coach Ed Kohtala said. “Malachi, I have so much respect for him, he is a tremendous talent and so our goal was just to slow him down. We had stretches we actually shut him down. We couldn’t the entire time but he didn’t go on any runs.”
Will Francis face-guarded Cummings for most of the game.
“He’s a big reason they score most of their points so I gave him no room, picked him up full court and it showed,” Francis said.
Presque Isle was able to muster just 11 points over the first two quarters and trailed Orono 21-11 after the first half.
Four players scored in the third for the Wildcats, who poured in 10 points and held Orono to eight in the frame.
Pierce Walston, who scored seven points to lead Orono in the first half, notched his third foul early in the third and was benched. Will Francis picked up the slack and hit two 3-pointers in the third and finished the game with 20 points to lead all scorers.
Francis continued his scoring in the fourth, earning an old-fashioned three-point play that gave the Red Riots a 32-23 lead just two minutes into the quarter.
Presque Isle was able to get within six points in the fourth but couldn’t come all the way back.
“We were sitting in the locker room after Old Town beat us by 25, we were 4-8 and if you told us we had a six-point game with six minutes left in a B semi against Orono I’d have told you you were crazy,” Presque Isle coach Dillon Kingsbury said. “I am super proud of them. One game isn’t going to define this team and these seniors.”
Cummings scored eight points in the second half to finish with 15 points on 5-for-18 shooting.
Orono is excited to get back to the B North final.
“It’s been our aim,” Kohtala said. “We stumbled badly in the final last year and we left angry, disappointed, and it was a long recovery process for our guys and coaches. We just didn’t show what we could do. When you play a good team and don’t play well, that is what can happen. The focus has been to get ourselves back and whoever it is, we want to play how we know we can and give someone a run for their money.”