RUMFORD — The ability to run and score points quickly has been a trademark of the Dirigo boys’ basketball team in recent years.
The Cougars showed flashes of that Monday night in their first MVC win of the season, at the expense of their rival. Junior Riley Robinson erupted for 29 points, and Dirigo stepped up defensively while pulling away for a 68-43 triumph over Mountain Valley at Puiia Gymnasium.
Mountain Valley (1-1), playing its home opener, was hoping to slow down the high-flying Cougars. The plan nearly worked, but poor shooting and unforced errors leading to 26 turnovers proved costly. Dirigo (1-1) was anxious to get on track after losing its season-opener at Boothbay, 72-66, onFriday.
There were a total of seven ties and lead changes in the first quarter, but it was just a matter of time before Dirigo came alive.
Robinson scored seven points to begin the second quarter.
“I felt the team had started out a little flat, and good teams cannot afford to allow that to happen,” said Robinson, who scored 25 against Boothbay. “But in the second quarter we played with energy. The younger guys — Cooper Chiasson, Luke Lueders and Vincent Hebert — really helped pick us up.”
Robinson scored from inside, and a steal by Gavin Arsenault (12 points) led to a fast-break basket for a 21-7 lead.
“The team is playing well,” Robinson said. “Our point guard, Tyler Frost, is the best passer in the conference, and the offense runs through him.”
Dirigo scored 13 of the final 14 points of the half, to lead 38-15 at halftime.
Mountain Valley cut the deficit to 10 on two occasions.
Center Caleb Gauvin (team high 12 points, seven rebounds) scored, and Ryley Flynn made two free throws. A runner by Jordan Parent and a Jordan Pilgrim putback made it 25-15 midway through the second frame.
“We knew who we had to guard Robinson and Arsenault, so we talked about keeping two back,” Mountain Valley coach Tom Danylik said. “But they have moves and they’re quick under the basket. We had some good looks at the basket and had some 2-on-1s but weren’t able to execute. We need to limit the unforced errors and try and keeping the game close, instead of trailing by 20 entering the fourth quarter.”
The Falcons’ Brad Marshall scored seven of his 10 points in the third quarter, but Dirigo countered with a Lueders basket and two more by Clay Swett (12 points).
The Cougars shot 52 percent from the floor and made 15 of 25 free throws. Mountain Valley shot 33 percent and sank 10 of 14 from the line.
“I like the energy of our team,” said Dirigo coach Travis Magnusson, who was missing two suspended players. “We are a running team, and we are not where we want to be now, but by the end of the season we will be. Our depth (rotations) will be better when we get those two players back.”