RUMFORD — Ayla Allen has taken her game to new places this season.
The Mountain Valley junior forward has found herself boxed up a little bit as a post player. So the 5-foot-10 Allen has tried to find other means to succeed. That has meant taking her offense farther way from the hoop.
“I’ve been a post player the last two years and people have been keying on me,” said Allen. “I need to learn to be more versatile. I’ve been working on my shot and working on my shooting, and it’s paying off.”
It paid dividends for the Falcons on Monday. Allen sparked Mountain Valley with a pair of 3-pointers to start the second half. The Falcons erased a halftime deficit and scored 10 straight en route to a 34-30 victory over Livermore Falls.
“It was a battle,” said Mountain Valley coach Rich Allen. “I knew it was going to be. I told the girls up front that it was one of those where it was anybody’s game. We just had a nice little run there. Ayla hitting those 3s was huge.”
It made for a clean sweep for the Falcons (11-4) over the Andies (12-3). Mountain Valley won the first meeting 33-31. It’s the second straight loss for Livermore Falls, which has dropped to second in Western Class C.
Allen finished with 19 points, including 13 in the second half. Livermore Falls got 12 from Marissa Welch.
“Ayla Allen was unbelieveable,” said Livermore Falls coach Mark Simpson. “She put them on her back again. It’s the second time she’s done it to us, and she carried them.”
The Falcons struggled offensively in the first half, shooting just 6-for-28. A strong defensive effort on Welch in the post kept Mountain Valley within reach.
Down by as many as six in the second, the Falcons got a jumper from McKenzie Paterson and a 3-pointer from Allen to take a 17-14 lead. The Andies got baskets by Annika Durrell and Welch to end the half up 18-17.
That’s when Allen truly took over. She opened the third quarter with a 3-pointer and followed that up with another from long distance. She then converted a steal. Brooke Dolloff completed the 10-0 run with a basket to make it 28-27.
“I thought the dribble drive created some extra opportunities for us,” said Rich Allen. “That got Ayla out on the wing. I thought that gave her an advantage to penetrate, but it ended being that she had some good looks. She ended up burying them.”
The Andies turned the ball over nine times in the quarter and shot just 1-for-7 from the floor. At one point, Simpson pulled all five players off the floor and emptied his bench for about two minutes.
“That’s all I could do,” said Simpson. “I warned them ahead of the Dirigo game that if they don’t play hard enough ... They just didn’t come out ready to play.”
The Andies tried to rally and got a Welch basket late in the quarter. Welch scored again to start the fourth, making it a five-point game, but the Falcons got an Allen basket and a jumper from Paterson to extend the lead again.
“The whole first game it was close the whole game,” said Ayla Allen. “I don’t think either team had that big of a lead. When we had that big of a lead tonight, it was nice.”
The Falcons did a nice job controlling the ball and milking the clock. A 3 by Megan Therrien cut the lead to 31-25, but Allen scored with 1:39 left. A 3 by LaDesta Tracy cut the lead to four with 32 seconds left, but the Falcons held on.
“I thought the kids did a good job controling the ball at the end,” said Rich Allen. “We’re still learning little things like that.”