BANGOR--- The Penquis Patriots overcame an 11 point second half deficit to capture the class C boys Eastern Maine championship.
It is the first regional title for Penquis since 2000.
Isaiah Bess scored 22 points including a three pointer that evened the scored at 38 with 3:56 remaining in the fourth quarter.
Trevor Lyford made a layup with 2:55 remaining to give Penquis a 40-38 lead. The Patriots locked down the championship by hitting six free throws in the last 2:30.
"I can't describe it, I wish I could put this into words. It is unbelievable,"Lyford said. "This isn't just a normal game. We have been going after this for so long."
Penquis outscored Houlton 18-5 in the fourth quarter.
"I can't even put it into words. We have been waiting since we were little kids to play for an Eastern Maine championship,"Bess said. "We got here and we were fortunate enough to come out with a W."
Cody Herbest made a big second half 3-pointer and more important played solid defense against sophomore sensation Kyle Bouchard.
Bouchard scored 10 points on 2-7 shooting. He also had eight rebounds, two assists and one block.
"Penquis coach Tony Hamlin said, "The job (Cody) Herbest did on Bouchard all game long. That kid (Bouchard) is a player and he struggled to score."
Tyler Pelletier recorded four points, four assists and three steals for the Patriots.
"I got some easy layups because Tyler Pelletier kept us in it,"Lyford said. "I credit Tyler Pelletier and Cody Herbest. They played amazing on defense for us today."
Bess came up big at the end of each half for the Patriots. He scored nine points in the final three minutes of the first half.
Bess scored eight points including nailing two 3-pointers in the fourth quarter. He also pulled down seven rebounds.
"I couldn't hit the broadside of the barn. Our teammates came through tonight,"Lyford said. "You have confidence with the best player (Bess) in the state on your team."
Lyford recorded 11 points, five rebounds, five assists, four steals and one block. Herbest chipped in with five points, three rebounds and one steal.
Derek Johnson and Jason Durant scored two points each for the Patriots.
Penquis (20-1) will face Boothbay in the class C state championship game at the Bangor Auditorium on Saturday, March 2nd at 9 p.m. It will be a rematch of the 2000 state championship game.
Lyford said, "This is so sweet. This isn't the end. We have another game and Hamlin will get us ready for that."
Hamlin has had his team ready for many big games throughout the years. The biggest was the state title victory over Boothbay 13 years ago.
Hamlin notched his 400th career victory with the victory over Houlton.
Hamlin said, "I am 61 and have been doing this 31 years. I have had a lot of great kids. I will digest that later.".
Nick Guiod led the Shiretowners with 17 points and 10 rebounds. Kole Buzzeo chipped in with eight points. Houlton finishes the season with a 19-2 record.