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Cougars stay unbeaten by holding off Falcons
Dirigo's Robbie Babb goes up for two of his team-high 16 points against Mountain Valley. (Photo courtesy of Art Chamberlin)
The Falcons' Jacob Theriault goes for a scoop shot for two of his 16 points against Dirigo. (Times photo by Bruce Farrin)
Cougar guard Travis Frost surveys the floor to make a pass for a scoring opportunity. (Times photo by Bruce Farrin)
DIXFIELD -- A game of basketball can be similar to a chess match as each team hopes its execution forces the opposition to blink and the Dirigo boys took the advantage down the stretch.
Senior Robbie Babb scored 14 of his 16 points in the second half and the Cougars stepped up on defense when they needed to and remained unbeaten by holding off Mountain Valley 44-38 at sold out Defoe Gymnasium.
It was the first meeting this season between the neighboring rivals and there was a lot on the line. Mountain Valley entered the fray having won five straight games, including upsetting previously unbeaten Boothbay 47-46 the previous week in Rumford. The plan was to slow down the high-flying Cougars. The plan nearly worked, but missing its final seven shots was too much to overcome.
“We wanted to shut them down,'' said MV coach Tom Danylik, who felt the Falcons did in holding Dirigo 30 points below its offensive out. “But Dirigo has some great players who fight off screens and they were patient with the ball in the fourth quarter.”
The teams had traded a series of baskets -- including three pointers by Dirigo's Riley Robinson (11 points) and Jake Theriault of MV, but a Babb basket off a power move put the Cougars ahead to stay, 37-34.
Dirigo helped its cause with a ball-hawking, trapping defense, which forced the Falcons to set their offense beyond the arc. A basket by Dom Haines with 6:12 remaining in the game was the Falcons' final points. Dirigo responded when Dylan Kidder scored off a nifty bounce pass by Hunter Ross (eight assists, three steals).
''It was the coach (adjustments) that made the difference in the third quarter," said Babb, regarding a surge and a scoop shot by TJ Frost (seven points) to put Dirigo ahead 30-27 entering the final quarter. ''This was a big game. The rivalry means everything and it can make or break a season when we play against each other.''
Mountain Valley had taken a 19-18 lead when Jake Theriault (16 points, three treys) buried a trey at the buzzer for halftime. The Falcons' Adam Volkernick and Ryan Nicols scored six and five points, respectively. Theriault is the Falcons' main offensive threat, but he was limited to three points in second half. The Cougars placed an emphasis on shutting him down, with Kaine Hutchins and Tyler Frost, defensively.
“We had talked about toughness at halftime,” said Dirigo coach Travis Magnusson. “They needed to play tougher and get in (Falcon) players faces.”
The Cougars shot 40 percent and two of 11 from the free throw line in fourth quarter. Despite the fast pace, Dirigo committed 15 turnovers and MV had 14. The Falcons shot 32 percent.