RUMFORD — Mountain Valley boys’ basketball seniors Zak Radcliffe and Andrew Child had one primary goal in their final home game: To make sure it won’t be their final home game.
Confused? Well, the elder Falcons and their streaky, younger teammates did their best to clarify at least one thing Thursday night — the Western Class B playoff picture — with a convincing 59-36 MVC verdict over St. Dom’s at Puiia Gym.
The Falcons (10-6) needed a win over the Saints (7-9) to continue their late-season push and keep pocketing precious Heal Points. No. 8 Mountain Valley is in a fight with Wells, Poland, Cape Elizabeth and Maranacook for position with a week to play.
Eighth or better means the Falcons will host a preliminary game. Ninth or worse equals a road trip.
“We’re picking it up. The last two games we came out kind of slow,” Child said. “Hall-Dale we picked up after the first half, and this one we picked it up after the first quarter. At the moment we feel like we’re dangerous.”
Mountain Valley used a 25-3 tear spanning from the end of the first quarter to the beginning of the third to put away St. Dom’s, which itself is in a fight for one of the final playoff spots in Western Class C.
Radcliffe finished with eight points and one of Mountain Valley’s 13 3-pointers. Child chipped in seven points.
Yes, that’s right. Thirteen of the Falcons’ 18 field goals were from beyond the 3-point line, and that’s not even a season-high.
It’s evidence that “The System” — a run-and-gun philosophy Mountain Valley borrowed from tiny Grinnell College of Iowa a few years back — is alive and well.
“It‘s still our goal to shoot as many 3s as we can. We average 30 (attempts) a game. We don’t always make them,” Mountain Valley coach Rick White said. “We average about eight. One night we hit 16.”
Ryan Nicols rained down five treys and Jacob Theriault tickled the twine with four bombs for the Falcons. Scott Nicols joined the party with a pair and Milo Jodrey nailed another.
Theriault finished with a team-high 16 points and nine rebounds. Ryan Nicols coupled his 15 points wioh five assists.
“Everyone was pretty hot. We haven’t had a game like that this year,” Theriault said. “Usually it’s just one person or two people, but tonight it seemed like everybody was hitting their shots.”
Radcliffe and Ryan Nicols each hit from long range late in the second period, vaulting cold-starting Mountain Valley to a 23-10 halftime lead.
The Falcons forced seven first-period turnovers and smothered the Saints into 4-for-24 shooting in the half.
Tom Applegate, the Saints’ 6-foot-7 center, posted team highs of 12 points and 11 rebounds. Mountain Valley contained St. Dom’s Joe Bryant to eight points.
“We wanted to put them away early. We tried to keep Applegate off the boards,” Theriault said. “We tried to lock him down man-to-man. We didn’t want to go into a zone because they have Bryant who can shoot the 3.”
Theriault hit a pair of 3-pointers in the third period, two of them widely uncontested.
“I feel like we started off shooting really slow, but we played great defense in the first half,” Radcliffe said. “The second half we came out, got some confidence and starting draining the shots.”
Mountain Valley finishes the regular season with trips to unbeaten Dirigo and Telstar. St. Dom’s has a point-worthy game with Wiscasset before traveling to Mt. Abram.
St. Dom’s entered the night in the 11th and final transfer spot in Western C.
“They’re a good team. They have good shooters. They didn’t have anything tonight,” White said. “And we’ve done that. Sometimes we’ll go and we can’t hit an ocean and go clank, clank, clank. It’s frustrating.”