Monday, March 9, 2009

Wolverines Pull Upset in Opening Round of The National Tournament, Fall in National Final Four

Fresh off their 4th NEPSAC Championship in 5 years the Bridgton Academy Wolverines were faced with the task of playing the #1 ranked team in the country in the opening round of the National Tournament. Patterson School (NC) came in as the top seed with a 34-2 record and Bridgton was the last team in and given the #8 seed.

The Bridgton players came out with a look in their eyes, as if they knew something no one else knew...they were about to surprise everybody.

The Wolverines started the game on fire knocking down 10 3-pointers in the first half en route to leading by as many as 17 points at 35-18 before entering halftime with a 43-34 lead.

Bridgton picked up right where they left off continuing to shoot the ball as well as they have all season in pushing their lead back up to 18, flat out determined to prove to everyone there top 5 ranking all season long was no fluke. But Patterson had other plans as they were motivated to prove they were #1 for a reason. Slowly chipping away Patterson was able to cut the lead down to 8..then 6..4..2. Suddenly it was 67-65 and Patterson was as close as they had been since the opening minutes of the game when the score was 3-2 Bridgton.

Regrouping for one last push the Wolverines came together and again combined key stops with key scores in finished the game outscoring Patterson 16-8 to advance to the National Final Four where they would meet the winner of South Kent/Tilton.

Malik Stith again showed everyone he is a big time player leading the Bridgton charge with 19 points, Dwayne Smith (Toronto, ON) followed with 17, Jack Houpt 13, Carl Blair 12, and Jamal Crook (Louisville, KY) added 9 points, including 7 big free throws late in the second half to seal the win.

After making their 3rd trip from North Bridgton, Maine to Beverly, MA in 3 days the Wolverines were set to face off with Tilton School in the National Semi-Finals at Endicott College.

The Wolverines started the game by outscoring the Rams 10-5, however Tilton fought back to take a 24-14 lead midway through the first half. Bridgton did their best to cut into the lead getting it to within 4 before Tilton pulled away in closing the half up 12, 44-32.

The second half saw Tilton work to protect their double digit lead as the Wolverines did everything they could to bring the game within a couple of possessions. Bridgton was able to cut the lead to 7 on multiple occasions but that was as close as they were able to get as their tanks had just run out after an emotionally and physically draining 48 hours. Their season had come to a close with an 86-71 loss to Tilton in the National Final Four.

Carl Blair led the Wolverines with 21 points, Jamal Crook followed with 14, while Malik Stith added 11.

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