Cougar boys outlasted by Flyers in regional final
AUGUSTA -- All good things come to an end. However, the Dirigo boys' basketball team make no excuses.
There was plenty of execution in the right places, but the shots simply didn't fall in as the Cougars' attempted rally fell shy in a 58-51 loss against No. 2 Waynflete in a Class C semifinal playoff game. The Cougars had won 13 straight regional games.
TJ Frost and Robbie Babb led the Dirigo offense with 15 and 13 points, respectively. The No. 3 Cougars defense was tested by the physical play by Old Orchard Beach in a quarterfinal game, and Waynflete, also from the Western Maine Conference, had the answers. The Flyers, led by Serge Nyirikamba with 17 points, was efficient (59 percent shooting), making four of five shots and eight of 12 free throws in fourth quarter, while Dirigo (35 percent) missed 11 of 15 shots and didn't go to the charity stripe in the final period.
''They're a great team and they made some great shots,'' said coach Travis Magnusson. ''We got some good looks, but the shots went in and out, and that was the difference.''
Dirigo certainly had opportunities. Waynflete had pulled ahead throughout the fourth quarter, when a three pointer by Frost cut the deficit to 54-51. The Cougars regained possession, but Frost's shot from beyond the arc rattled in and out, as did Riley Robinson's followup with 30 seconds left.
The Flyers could afford to keep the ball up top and Dirigo was forced to foul. Harry Barker-Connick scored his 12 points in the second half.
"I told my guys after the game how proud I am of them, and the seniors especially,'' said Magnusson, referring to Babb, TJ Frost, Hunter Ross and Chad Snowman. "The seniors have gone 41-2 over the past two years. I don't think a lot of people thought we'd be 18-1 coming into tonight as young as we are. The seniors led this team. They gave us great leadership, and we're going to be back."
Dirigo received some tremendous efforts in earlier quarters that closed the gap or maintained leads. Waynflete had taken a 42-38 lead, when Babb made a free throw, TJ Frost scored on a drive and Ross added a free throw to tie the game, entering the final period. The Flyers scored 11 of the first 14 points of the second quarter to trail by one, but Snowman buried a trey and put back a loose ball, for a 27-24 lead at halftime.
Dirigo had started out on fire, with Tyler Frost draining three treys for a 19-10 lead after the first quarter.