Cougar boys fought to the end
Through all the trials and tribulations, the Dirigo boys' basketball team experienced a banner season that beat the odds and came within an earshot of achieving its final goal.
The Cougars proved the critics wrong by taking an entirely new team, along with a new coach and winning a third straight regional championship.
With five new starters, the team won 16 regular season game, including knocking off rival Mountain Valley, earned a No. 1 ranking in Class C and secured a berth in the MVC championship game.
Cody St. Germain scored a game-high 22 points and grabbed 11 rebounds in a 54-30 win against Mountain Valley. It was the first MVC loss for the Falcons since the winter of 2009.
Ben Holmes, Josh Turbide, Caleb Turner and the lone senior starter, Spencer Ross, each had their shining moments. Senior reserve Arik Fenstermacher scored 16 points against Jay.
The team beat Livermore Falls, Waynflete and Boothbay in the regional playoffs.
The reward was a trip to the Bangor Auditorium, where they had lost to Calais, 40-39 in 2009. This time, the opponent was Lee Academy, a semi-private institution in Washington County, which attracts students worldwide. The headmaster is Mexico graduate Bruce Lindberg, who coached Dirigo basketball in 1977 and served as the principal at Mountain Valley High School.
Dirigo coach Rebecca Fletcher had scouted the Pandas in person and on tape during the Eastern Maine regional.
Dirigo was led on treys by Turbide and Spencer Ross in the first and second quarters.
“We got off to such a great start,” said Fletcher. “I was impressed with our ability to step onto the floor and let ourselves play right from the tap.”
The Cougars encountered foul trouble and having two starters head to the bench not only created matchup issues, but also affected team confidence.
“We became a much more offensively tentative team, and started to rely too much on our perimeter shots (eight for 27 in first half) that weren't falling consistently enough.
The team made adjustments and cut the deficit to seven in the fourth quarter.
Lee had size (6-7 Daniel Hee and a strong cast) and Dirigo couldn’t limit them to one shot consistently; nor get any second chance opportunities, offensively. I am really proud of our kids for never throwing in the towel,” said
Fletcher. “They fought until the end and left it all on the floor. I could not have asked for a better effort.”