The Yarmouth boys’ basketball team hosted the injury stricken Poland Knights and held on for a 63-56 victory Tuesday night.
Even better, senior captain Josh Britten led his team with 25 points and had himself one monumental night.
The game wasn’t pretty for either team. Actually, the word atrocious came to mind at times down the stretch in the fourth quarter. Field goals and free throws weren’t falling and the fouls kept piling up at an alarming rate. Yarmouth missed eight straight free throws in the final seconds of the game, but with a few key offensive rebounds was able to hang on for the win.
“It was a very frustrating game all around for us,” said Yarmouth coach Adam Smith.
But forget the ugliness for a minute as we talk about Britten.
Britten came out quick in the second half and swished a 3-pointer that gave him exactly 1,000 career points. Smith instantly called a timeout and the celebration was on. Moments after his teammates and coaches swarmed him, he made his way over to the front row of the crowd to his parents.
“They’re my biggest fans,” said Britten, who gave them the game ball to hold onto. “It’s awesome. It’s a really good feeling.”
With nine regular season games remaining, Britten could certainly surpass Johnny Murphy’s school record of 1,206. Going into the game, the humble and team oriented Britten said he was caught off guard by the number.
“I actually had no idea I made it to 1,000 until they announced it,” said Britten. “It’s not something we talk about before games or at any part in the season.
“I don’t want to think about it. I’d rather play to win and play for my team. It was a great surprise, it’s good to get it under my belt, finally, but it’s definitely fun moving on.”
With the 1,000 point feat out of the way, the lighting quick Britten didn’t slow down a second. He racked up the first eight points of the second half, pulling Yarmouth ahead, 41-27. The run made Poland coach Tyler Tracey to call a timeout with 6:50 remaining in an attempt to stop the beast.
“Josh is a work horse,” said Tracey. “He goes 100 percent all the time. He doesn’t know a fourth gear. He’s in fifth the entire game.”
Rick Bryant had to step up and carry a heavy load for the battered and depleted Knights, who just lost star big man Jake Littlefield with a broken wrist on January 6. Forward Drew Peterson also just found out that the calcium deposit in his thigh will sideline him for the entire year. Bryant poured in 27 points, 13 from the foul line.
“For us to come in here and play Yarmouth, who I think is one of the best teams in the Western Maine Conference, play them tough and only have two days to prepare, I’m very proud of it,” said Tracey. “They’re not going to back down. They’re not going to roll over.”
Out of the gate, it was an even matchup with the scoreboard reading 15-15 at the end of the first quarter. David Murphy and Britten were able to get some shots falling in the second quarter, with Murphy hitting two 3-pointers and Britten one, to build a 33-27 lead at halftime.
The Clippers spread the ball around more and got points from six different players in the third quarter, with Adam LaBrie off the bench making two outside shots.
It was 56-46 Yarmouth going into the final quarter and Poland was in the one-and-one foul shot bonus. Soon in the fourth, Yarmouth was also in the bonus. However, both teams struggled at the line, with Yarmouth shooting a ghastly 3-for-14 (nine-for-23 in the game) and Poland 5-for-10 (16-for-28 in the game).
“Sometimes they fall, sometimes they don’t,” said Britten. “It’s tough down the stretch, a lot of pressure, the game on the line. It’s definitely something we have to keep working on, but it was just one of those nights where they weren’t falling for us.”
Yarmouth scored just seven points (six from Britten) and Poland 10 in the fourth quarter. The first five minutes only saw four points fall for each squad. However, five quick points from C.J. Martin cut the Clipper lead to 60-55 with 1:33 to play. Britten answered back quickly with two free throws to make it 62-55 with 1:25 to play. Sophomore Nate Shields-Auble added a point at 1:13 for a 63-55 score. The Clippers then proceeded to miss eight straight from the charity stripe and do their best to keep the Knights within striking distance During the stretch of missed free throws, seniors Chris Knaub and Sam Torres were luckily able to snag offensive rebounds to retain possession and eat up more time for the home team.
A win is a win, but against the injured Knights, the Clippers needed to show more overall dominance. However, the Knights kept the defensive intensity flowing for 32 minutes not allowing the Clippers and easy shots.
“It was a little sloppy,” said Britten. “We couldn’t really get into any of our offenses. We never really got anything going. They played great defense, they’re a defensive team.”
The Clippers were able to get some fast break layups.
“Fortunately we had enough turnovers that gave us some easy opportunities that kept us in the lead when we needed it because we struggled in the half court,” said Smith. “We struggled offensively as well as defensively.
“But as a team, they stuck together long enough to pull out a victory which was, in the end, the best part of the whole event.”
Sophomore Shields-Auble had 11 points and Torres added nine. The win jumped Yarmouth into the No. 3 spot in the Western Class B Heal Points standings.
Next up, the Clippers will look to come back sharper as they travel to Cape Elizabeth Thursday. Yarmouth goes to Western C power Waynflete next Wednesday.