Cougar boys pull away from Rebels
DIXFIELD -- It was definitely a challenge and the Dirigo boys' basketball team proved once again it was up to the task on Jan. 28 as two Mountain Valley Conference foes battled to the bitter end.
Caleb Turner scored a game-high 18 points as Dirigo pulled together when necessary for a thrilling 55-39 win against Telstar at DeFoe Gymnasium
Dirigo (14-1), ranked No. 1, had to come from behind last time to beat No. 8 Telstar (10-6), so nothing was being taken for granted. The Cougars switched gears in the third quarter to surge ahead with a double-digit lead.
“It seems to give us more energy,” said Dirigo coach Rebecca Fletcher, referring to the half-court trap. “It mixes things up, but I do not like to stay with the trap too long because it tires the kids out. Still, it’s one of the basic fundamentals of playing defense. Telstar was also showing us different looks.’’
A Spencer Ross three pointer put a nail in the coffin midway through the fourth quarter.
Dirigo and Telstar had traded two baskets each by Cody St. Germain (13 points, five rebounds) and Dan Vaughn (14 points, seven rebounds) starting the third quarter. The Cougars' trap was effective, Turner (five assists, seven steals) buried a three pointer and Turner made an acrobatic underhanded scoop shot to go up 34-24.
“We went to our trap,” said Turner. “That opened up our fast break offense and we were able to score transition baskets. The defense created offense again.”
Telstar had a chance when Ben Field was fouled on a three-point shot, but made only one of three chances. Vaughn and Field (12 points, 15 rebounds, three blocks) each made baskets, but the Cougars' Josh Turbide (eight points) drained a trey and St. Germain hit a jumper at the buzzer for a 43-29 lead after three quarters.
“We got beat by a better team tonight,” said Telstar coach Mark Thurlow. “We needed to get used to emotions in this gym and play a full 32 minutes. Plus withstand the Dirigo surge and take care of the ball.”
Telstar had started strong as the score had been tied or changed sides eight times as the teams made 11 of 19 shots in a scrappy first quarter. The physical play had players scrambling on the floor after loose balls. A Turner 24-foot shot at the buzzer gave Dirigo a 13-12 lead.
Dirigo led by six when Dan Whitney buried a trey and Vaughn made two baskets for a 17-16 lead. It was short lived because the Cougars scored seven unanswered points. Turner drained a trey, Ben Holmes (12 points) scored on a power move and Turbide hit a three pointer for a 25-19 lead at halftime. Telstar enjoyed a two-to-one rebounding edge because Dirigo failed to box out.
“Last time, we struggled against their 2-3 zone,” said St. Germain. “But tonight we handed it better by getting the ball at the high post and it opened things up under the basket for us.”
Despite the cold outside, both teams shot 47 percent from the floor, but the Cougars had 13 turnovers compared to the Rebels 24.