By Don Perryman, Of the NEWS Staff - BANGOR - The George Stevens Academy boys basketball team's philosophy goes something like this: play solid team defense, take care of the ball, and find Nick Henry.The third-seeded Eagles covered all of the maxims Saturday night at the Bangor Auditorium and came away with a 63-55 victory over No. 4 Dexter to win the Eastern Maine Class C title.
The 19-2 Eagles will play 19-2 Winthrop for the state championship at approximately 9 p.m. Saturday at the Bangor Auditorium. Winthrop defeated Hyde of Bath 57-55 for the Western Maine Class C title Saturday.
The Eagles opened up a 22-12 lead at the end of the first quarter and maintained it throughout the game.
They did so by running a motion offense designed to spring open Henry off screens for short-range jumpers around the lane. The scheme worked well with the 6-foot-3 senior scoring 20 points on 8-of-15 shooting. He also grabbed nine rebounds.
"I don't do anything spectacular. I just work within the offense, use the screens, and shoot the open shots," Henry said.
The Eagles also took care of the ball. They turned the ball over just seven times. They had only three turnovers through three quarters, including a turnover-free third period.
Meanwhile, their defense forced Dexter into 14 turnovers and ran two defenders, Ben Freedman and Mark Clapp, at Dexter's Travis Patterson throughout the game. Patterson, a prolific scorer whose resume includes 1,500 career points, scored 22 points but never looked or felt comfortable.
"I couldn't get a rhythm. They ran a lot of different people at me to try to wear me down. It was tough," said Patterson, a 6-foot-1 senior guard.
Freedman took his defensive assignment with a bit of trepidation.
"After watching him lay out a bunch of guys in the previous game, I was a bit nervous. I just played back off him and made him make the shots. Just make him beat you," Freedman said.
The Eagles maintained a 10-point lead throughout much of the game and, like in their semifinal win over Piscataquis of Guilford, made their free throws in the fourth quarter when Dexter repeatedly sent George Stevens to the line while trying to close the gap.
The Eagles made 10-of-14 free throws in the quarter.
GSA might have stretched its lead had it maintained a bit more discipline in running its offense. Henry admitted it's something the Eagles get away from from time to time.
"We have those kinda mental lapses during the game. We try to limit those and coach [Matt Mattson] pushes us through it," Henry said.
The Tigers received a hard- working effort from Cody Roach. The burly 6-4 senior battled with GSA's 6-4 senior Chris Saunders and 6-6 senior Travis Templeton until fouling out with 3:41 remaining. Roach went to the bench with 12 points, 11 rebounds and two blocks.
Clapp had nine points and seven assists for the Eagles. Duane Ledien also had nine points and Templeton finished with eight.
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