Shires edge past Madawaska in boys quarterfinal
HOULTON, Maine — A depleted Houlton boys basketball team was able to hold off a determined Madawaska squad Thursday night, 72-59, in a Class B/C quarterfinal.
No. 3 Houlton (8-4 overall) was playing without the services of several players due to illness, injury or other factors. Isaiah Gentle led the Shires with 24 points, while Garrett Harvey added 16, Jaden Gentle had 15, Hunter Sennett added nine, Cody Johnson had six and Bronson Hanning scored two.
Carsen Cyr led the Owls with 30 points, while Robert Lausier added 15, RJ Minor had six, Adam Gendreau chipped in four, Ian Beaulieu had three and Brady Gagnon had one.
The Owls jumped to a 5-0 lead to start the game, getting two easy baskets off transition. Houlton regained its composure thanks to an 8-0 run midway through the first quarter and the Shires never trailed again.
No. 6 Madawaska (3-7) made a number of strong runs at the Shires in the second half, but were never able to cut the deficit to less than five points.
“I had seen Houlton play a couple of times and I knew we didn’t want to try and run with Houlton,” Madawaska coach Dean Gendreau said. “We wanted to be more patient in our offense, with more passes and we did that for a time.”
The win for Houlton marked the first varsity career playoff victory for first-year coach Gentle.
“Madawaska certainly played us hard tonight,” Gentle said. “We gave up some easy baskets and I think we struggled at times with being tired. We were down to about a six-man rotation tonight. Hopefully we can get some guys back by Saturday.”
The Shires led 23-11 at the end of the first quarter and took a 36-29 lead into the halftime break. Madawaska made a strong push to start the third quarter, cutting the lead to four (39-35) at one point. But back-to-back 3-pointers by Gentle put Houlton back up by 10 points and the team was able to go up 55-41 after three periods.
In the final quarter, the Owls were able to cut the deficit to nine points with five minutes remaining, but that was as close as the team would get.
Although the outcome was not what he had hoped for, Gendreau said he was extremely proud of his group of players throughout this unusual season.
“These guys never complained once about having to wear a mask,” he said. “They always worked hard. I couldn’t be more proud of them.”