RUMFORD — When ever the situation rises, the Dirigo and Mountain Valley boys' basketball teams are always eager to play each other. Once again the regular-season finale provided a perfect backdrop Thursday night.
This time, Dirigo dominated.
Robbie Babb scored 16 of his 18 points in the first half as the Cougars strruck early and often in a 71-39 win at Puiia Gymnasium.
Class C Dirigo (17-1) came from behind to beat the rival Falcons in Dixfield last month.
There were seven lead changes or ties in the first quarter, but Dirigo opened a gap with a 9-0 run in second quarter.
Kaine Hutchins (10 points, seven rebounds) started the surge with a basket and a 3-pointer. Babb hit from in the lane and T.J. Frost stole the ball and passed to Hunter Ross for a fast break layup to lead 28-16.
"We came out with a lot of energy tonight," Hutchins said. "We wanted to finish 17-1, the fifth time in school history, like Tom Knight's team."
Class B Mountain Valley (12-6) struggled early in recent games but was confident playing the Cougars on a larger court would be an advantage.
The Falcons were led by Jake Theriault (20 points, two treys), but there wasn't much support.
“I'm 95 percent sure we'll be seeded fourth and avoid a prelim,” Mountain Valley coach Tom Danylik said prior to the game.
Dirigo, ranked third in Western Class C entering the game, scored 11 of the first 13 points of the third quarter to lead 41-22. The pressure defense forced eight turnovers and the Cougars made nine of 10 free throws, four by Riley Robinson.
Mountain Valley was held scoreless until Milo Jodrey put back an offensive rebound midway through the quarter.
Sean Murphy and Adam Volkernick scored six and five points, respectively, for the Falcons.
“Depth has been a key for us all year," Dirigo coach Travis Magnusson said. “We can go 10 deep, and I think we were able to wear them down. Plus I thought Hunter Ross did a great job defending Jake Theriault. The team keeps improving and from a coach's perspective, that is what you want to see."
Dirigo led 30-20 at halftime.
Tyler Frost added 10 points for the Cougars.
Mountain Valley shot 33 percent and made four of eight free throws. The Cougars shot 50 percent and made 18 of 23 from the charity stripe.