High school boys basketball

Bartlett's game-ending trifecta gives Lions win over 'Stangs, possible playoff spot

Thrilling regular season-ending court clash between Waldo County rivals comes down to final seconds
By Mark Haskell | Feb 06, 2020
Photo by: Mark Haskell Belfast's Jason Bartlett, right, and Mount View's Elijah Allen, left, vie for the ball on Feb. 5 in high school boys basketball in Belfast. The Lions beat the Mustangs 54-53.

Belfast — Facing Waldo County athletic rival Mount View in its final game of the regular season, the Belfast boys basketball team’s back was against the wall.

On the outside looking in on the Class B North high school playoffs, the Lions, who lost to the Mustangs 62-59 earlier in the season in Thorndike, needed a win — and help — if they hoped to extend their season.

And while that help has yet to arrive, the Lions got the victory they desperately needed to stay alive. And it came in stunning fashion.

Watch video and see more photos below.

With the Mustangs holding a 53-51 lead with 4.7 seconds to go, Tanner Veilleux delivered a picture-perfect pass to Jason Bartlett, who buried a clutch 3-pointer as time expired to propel the hosts Lions to a thrilling 54-53 victory in the final game of the regular season.

The win pushed the Lions up the playoff ladder into the 12th and final postseason spot in Class B North.

If Orono, ranked 10th, defeats Old Town (14th) and Caribou (1st) defeats Presque Isle (13th) in regular-season games scheduled for Thursday, Feb. 6, the Lions are in the playoffs. If one of those things does not happen, the Lions are out.

In the meantime, the Lions can sit back and enjoy the fruits of their labor. That being, a clutch victory that saw one of their best players on the bench for the entire second half due to an injury.

“It’s one of the best games I’ve been involved in since I’ve been at Belfast,” said Belfast coach Marty Messer. “Or in my life coaching. They never gave up.”

“The win feels amazing,” said Bartlett. “Especially against our biggest rival Mount View and the fact that it kept us alive in the playoffs.”

Bartlett’s game-winner also was Belfast’s only lead of the game.

Chris Kelley went down on the final play of the first half with what Messer called “a serious ankle sprain.” Should the Lions qualify for the playoffs, his status for the team’s prelim playoff game is uncertain.

“We didn’t play particularly well in the first half, and then you see Chris’s swollen ankle and he can’t go back in, I just tried to let them know, good things happen sometimes when you’re faced with adversity,” said Messer.

“I didn’t expect anything less,” said Kelley. “That’s my teammate and my best friend. I knew he could do it and that we could pull it out as a team. [And] They were playing so good without me. I was going to try to go in second half, but they were doing better without me.”

It was Belfast’s second game in as many days, as it lost to Maranacook of Readfield on Tuesday night.

Also for Belfast, LaDerrick Roberts left the game several times in the second half with leg cramps before exiting for good with 1:37 to play, as did Drew Abelon with under 30 seconds to go.

Mount View burst to an 18-9 lead in the first quarter, but Belfast continued to chip away as the Mustangs led 29-22 at halftime and 37-34 after three quarters.

"I thought both teams played hard,” said Mount View coach Jeremy Von Oesen. “I think they both worked their butts off. We knew it was going to be tight at the end. Between these teams they always are.”

Von Oesen said he was trying to call a timeout before Belfast inbounded the ball on the final play of the game, but he could not be heard by officials over the roaring crowd. However, at that point Belfast had possession of the ball, thus, Mount View would not have been granted a timeout request at that point.

“As soon as it went over the top I knew he was probably going to make that shot," said Von Oesen. "Going to his left, he hits that shot. It was a big shot, guy in his face. We didn’t want to foul and put him at the line. It’s a tough loss, but one of those losses that hopefully you learn from and carry a positive from into the tournament.”

Bartlett and Patrick McConnell scored 15 points for the Lions, while Roberts added 10; Kelley, six; and Veilleux, Chase Sanders, Melotti and Tommy Walker, two.

Declan Knowlton led the Mustangs with 21 points, while Draedyn Furrow addd 11; Elijah Allen, 10; Joe Grassi and Sean Raven, four; and Garrett Smith, two.

The Lions were 12-of-22 (54 percent) from the foul line — with McConnell 6-of-8 (75 percent) from the line in the third quarter to keep Belfast in the fight — while the Mustangs, also playoff-bound in Class B North, were 10-of-17 (59 percent).

The game appeared to be all but over as the Mustangs pulled away in the fourth after Allen hit a short fadeaway and netted a free throw moments later to give Mount View a 51-42 lead with 1:30 to play.

Then, the Lions went on a 12-2 push to end the game.

Bartlett canned a 3-pointer followed by a two straight hoops by McConnell — one a hard-fought hoop in the paint and the second a steal at midcourt he converted for a layup, as Mount View’s lead suddenly was 51-49 with under a minute to go.

Grassi extended Mount View’s edge with a transition layup, but Bartlett converted two free throws with 10.8 seconds to play to pull Belfast within 53-51.

A Mustang free-throw attempt off a 1-and-1 free-throw situation seconds later that went out of bounds set up Bartlett’s heroics with 4.7 seconds to go.

Messer said that while Bartlett is “one of the best shooters in the league,” the precision of Veilleux’s pass cannot be understated.

“Tanner did a great job and he and Jason were just feeding off each other. A fake toward the ball and then going up for it and it was just a perfect pass over the top where Jason gets to collect it almost close to half court before the clock even starts.”

“With time running out we were just trying to get the best shot we could and it happened to come to me,” said Bartlett. “Tanner made a great pass to me and I went down the sideline and the shot felt good coming out of my hands. It’s a great team win, and hopefully we get to play another game.”

In the Maine Principals’ Association Heal Point Standings for Class B North, Mount View (9-9, 63.1481 points) is eighth, while Belfast (10-8, 41.2346 points) is 12th. Caribou (16-1, 185.4938 points) is first in the 17-team region. The top 12 teams qualify for the playoffs.

Mount View at Belfast boys basketball
Belfast hosts Mount View on Feb. 5 in high school boys basketball. (Video by: Mark Haskell and Zack Miller)
Mount View's Joe Grassi, left, and Belfast's Chris Kelley. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Mount View's Declan Knowlton. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Mount View's Draedyn Furrow. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Mount View's Draedyn Furrow. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Belfast's Chris Kelley. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Belfast's Drew Abelon. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Mount View's Joe Grassi, left, and Draedyn Furrow, middle, as well as Belfast's Drew Abelon. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Belfast's Drew Abelon. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Belfast's Jason Bartlett, front, and Mount View's Elijah Allen. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Mount View's Declan Knowlton, middle, and Belfast's Patrick McConnell, left, and Drew Abelon. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Belfast's Jason Bartlett. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Belfast's Jason Bartlett, front, and Mount View's Elijah Allen. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
The Mount View bench. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Mount View's Declan Knowlton, left, and Belfast's Tanner Veilleux. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Mount View's Sean Raven, left, and Belfast's Chris Kelley. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Belfast's Patrick McConnell, middle, and Mount View's Draedyn Furrow, left, and Delcan Knowlton. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Belfast's Patrick McConnell, middle, and Tanner Veileux, left. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Mount View's Joe Grassi, left, and Belfast's LaDerrick Roberts. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Belfast's LaDerrick Roberts. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Mount View's Joe Grassi, left, and Belfast's Tommy Walker. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Belfast's Tommy Walker. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Belfast's Tommy Walker. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Belfast's Chris Kelley, left, and Mount View's Joe Grassi. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Belfast's Chase Sanders, left, and Chris Kelley, middle, as well as Mount View's Elijah Allen, left, and Joe Grassi. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Belfast's Chris Kelley. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Belfast's Jason Bartlett. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Belfast's LaDerrick Roberts. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Mount View's Declan Knowlton, left, and Belfast's Chris Kelley. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Mount View's Sean Raven. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Mount View's Sean Raven, right, and Belfast's Patrick McConnell. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Mount View's Sean Raven, right, and Belfast's Patrick McConnell. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Mount View's Garrett Smith. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Mount View's Elijah Allen. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Mount View's Elijah Allen. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Mount View's Elijah Allen. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Belfast's Jason Bartlett, left, and Mount View's Declan Knowlton. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Mount View's Declan Knowlton. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Belfast's Tanner Veilleux. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Mount View coach Jeremy VonOesen. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Mount View's Joe Grassi. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Belfast's Marco Melotti. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Belfast's Marco Melotti, left, and Jason Bartlett. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Belfast's Jason Bartlett, front, and Marco Melotti, left, as well as Mount View's Elijah Allen. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Mount View's Elijah Allen, left, and Belfast's Jason Bartlett. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Mount View's Brennan Grant, left, and Elijah Allen. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Belfast's Marco Melotti, left, and Mount View's Draedyn Furrow. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Belfast's Marco Melotti, left, and Mount View's Draedyn Furrow. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Belfast's Jason Bartlett, front, and Marco Melotti, right, as well as Mount View's Elijah Allen. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Belfast's Marco Melotti, left, and Mount View's Elijah Allen. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Mount View's Draedyn Furrow. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Mount View's Sean Raven, left, Draedyn Furrow, middle, and Elijah Allen. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Mount View's Elijah Allen, left, and Garrett Smith, middle, as well as Belfast's Jason Bartlett. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Belfast's Tommy Walker, middle, and Marco Melotti. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Belfast's Tommy Walker, middle, and Marco Melotti. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Belfast's Jason Bartlett, left, and Mount View's Sean Raven. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
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