Updated with video of final seconds

Happy road trip: Belfast boys hoop tops Caribou in final seconds, heads to Bangor

Tyler Bartlett's rebound, score in final seconds seals deal for Lions
By Mark Haskell | Feb 16, 2018
Courtesy of: Belfast Area High School Belfast Area High School boys varsity basketball team includes, front from left, Skylar Perkins, Stanley Sturgis, Tyler Bartlett, Dakoda Doolan, Luke Lighter and manager Kristina Walker; second row, Jason Bartlett, Dakota Payson, Jesse Perry, Wilder Magruder and Tanner Veilleux; and third row, head coach Marty Messer, Grady Doolan, Chris Kelley, Aaron Fuller and assistant coach Korey Doolan.

Caribou — When it comes to travel, a trip to Caribou is never a desirable draw for visiting Midcoast high school basketball squads.

And in this case, for No. 9 Belfast, as the Lions hit the road to face the No. 8 Vikings — 210 miles north — in a Class B North prelim playoff game on Wednesday night, Feb. 14.

And thanks to the efforts of many Lions — notably Tyler Bartlett in the waning seconds — the long bus ride back home seemed much shorter as the Lions got a late hoop from the senior forward and the visitors escaped with a 49-48 victory.

Watch video below.

With the win, the Lions (9-10) advance to the regional quarterfinals, where they will face top-ranked and unbeaten Hermon (18-0) on Saturday, Feb. 17 at 4:35 p.m. at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor. The Hawks and Lions did not play each other during the regular season.

Caribou’s season wrapped at 6-13.

"We play so much better when the team is focused and fired up,” said Lion coach Marty Messer. “This was a game when we peaked in those areas and beat a good team. Our zone [defense] looked good all game and we got better at it as the game went along. We were very active in it and matched up well with [their] cutters.”

Belfast jumped to an 18-6 lead after the first quarter, 26-23 at halftime and 40-39 after three quarters.

Stanley Sturgis pumped in 14 points for Belfast, while Chris Kelley added 11; Jason Bartlett and Dakota Doolan, six; and Tyler Bartlett, Skylar Perkins and Luke Lightner, four.

Parker Deprey scored 14 points to pace Caribou, while Isaac Marker added nine; Alex Bouchard, Nick Allen and Austin Findlen, seven; and Sawyer Deprey, four.

The Lions finished 6-of-9 (67 percent) from the charity stripe, while the Vikings were 3-of-3 (100 percent).

Tyler Bartlett, one of six seniors on the team, said “every single one of our players brought intensity and effort to the game, [both] starters and non-starters.”

“That’s hard to do after a four-hour bus ride, but I’m super proud of how our team came out ready to play,” he said.

Caribou dug itself out of its early hole in the first quarter and the squads went back and forth over the final three stanzas, as the game came down to the final possession.

Findlen put Caribou ahead 48-47 with a late hoop in traffic, which set up what proved the game-winning hoop for the Lions.

Sturgis moved the ball across the midcourt line and fired a fadeaway from the elbow with about 12 seconds to play, but the shot rimmed out.

Johnny on the spot, Tyler Bartlett wrestled down a hard-fought rebound and put a shot off the window with about 15 seconds to play, which gave the Lions a 49-48 advantage.

“At the end we definitely wanted the ball in Stan’s hands,” said Bartlett. “He got a good look and I was just in the right spot at the right time. We’ve worked hard all year for close moments like that and it’s just a great feeling to go back to Bangor.”

Belfast’s defense stood tall on Caribou’s final possession as the Vikings were forced to throw up an off-balance 3-pointer — which missed its mark — as the final buzzer sounded.

"I always tell the team that it's the little things that matter when trying to win, so when Tyler Bartlett grabbed the offensive rebound and scored at the end, it was a little thing that was the biggest play for our season so far,” said Messer. “I couldn't be happier for him and the whole team.”

Belfast at Caribou boys basketball
Relive the final exciting seconds of the Belfast at Caribou boys basketball playoff game on Feb. 14 (Courtesy of: Grey Dinsmore)
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Mark Haskell
Associate Sports Director
594-4401, ext. 116
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Mark has been covering local sports throughout Knox, Waldo and part of Lincoln county since 2007. Haskell has a bachelor's degree in Mass Communication from the University of Maine and is also a 2000 graduate of Rockland District High School. He has won multiple Maine Press Association awards for writing and photography.

Mark loves iced coffee, cargo shorts, spending time with friends and family and suffers no longer after his beloved Philadelphia Eagles beat the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LII.

He resides in Thomaston with his wife Jenn, his sons Beckett and Austin and daughter Lila.

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