BANGOR-- Isaiah Bess and Trevor Lyford combined for 47 points to lead the Penquis Patriots to a 61-54 victory over the Boothbay Seahawks on Saturday evening in the class C boys state championship game.
Bess scored seven points in the first quarter including two 3-point baskets. The Seahawks started the game playing a zone defense and the Patriots were prepared.
"We worked on it in practice because we knew they would play 2-3 (zone),"Bess said. "Eventually they came out of it because we were doing pretty well against it."
Cody Herbest scored eight points including two 3-pointers. He hit a three pointer with 48 seconds remaining to give the Patriots a lead (9-7) they would hold the rest of the game.
Herbest said, "We were expecting zone. We watched them on film."
Bess did it from everywhere on the court in the final tournament game that will ever be played at the Bangor Auditorium.
He hit three 3-pointers, eight free throws and had two dunks including a thunderous dunk in a half court set during the first half.
"Isaiah (Bess) was just a beast tonight. I knew Isaiah was going to have a big night, he was due,"Penquis coach Tony Hamlin said. "We told him in the closed court, if you get a chance to tomahawk (dunk) it do it. Don't do it on a breakaway but do it in the closed court like you do it in practice."
Lyford scored 20 points, including hitting 12-14 from the free throw line in the fourth quarter.
This is the first state championship for Penquis since 2000, when they also defeated Boothbay.
"It is really unbelievable. It is so rare to get a gold ball, it is really difficult,"Hamlin said. "I think it will be a while before we will get to do this again. This was the year if we were going to do it."
It was Hamlin 401st win in his final game of his 31st year of coaching. Hamlin will announce in the coming days about his plans for the future.
"It has been a great 31 years. I don't know what I am going to do after tonight's game. I will make my mind up in the next few days,"Hamlin said. "I asked myself, how many coaches get to go out with a win in a state championship."
The strength of the 2012/2013 Penquis team has been the relentless defense. Tyler Pelletier, Herbest, Bess and Lyford have made it difficult for opponents all season.
"Trevor and Isaiah get a lot of credit but I think Cody Herbest should get a lot of credit on the defensive end. I think he is one of the best defenders in the state,"Pelletier said. "He is always matched up against one of their best players."
Lyford added, "We are just a bunch of junkyard dogs from Milo. No one really knows who we are. When their is a loose-ball he (Hamlin) tells us to get after it and we get after it. That pumps the crowd up. This community is incredible."
Senior starter Jason Durant has played the last three weeks with a broken wrist. Junior Derrick Johnson has stepped in to play valuable minutes during the Patriots tourney run.
"He (Johnson) is a house, he has gotten better and better in the last month. Jason Durant has a broken wrist and has been playing the last three weeks with a broken wrist, Derrick has come in and done a great job."
This group of Patriots have played basketball together for a long time.
"It feels amazing to win a gold ball with this group of guys that I have been with since I was little. It means everything to the community because it is a small town,"Bess said. "When something big happens it makes everyone feel good."
Pelletier added. "This means the world to me. I have never felt anything like it. The Eastern Maine game felt good but it feels nothing close to what this feels."
The Patriots have been thinking about this day being a possibility since a semifinal loss to Lee during the 2012 tournament.
"Last year we were really bummed out after the Lee game. We dwelled on that for maybe a week. Once that was done we were back at it. We knew we had big things coming up this year,"Lyford said. "This is a great team. I have never been part of anything like this.To be honest I never knew what it would feel like to hold that gold ball. Now I know why we were in that weight room."
Herbest added, "It is awesome. The community is proud of us. I think the whole town was here tonight."
Bess led Penquis (21-1) with 27 points, seven rebounds and two blocks.
Andrew Hallinan led Boothbay (20-2) with 16 points including 10 in the fourth quarter. Anthony DiMauro added 15 points. John Hepburn chipped in with eight points and 12 rebounds.