Poland rolls into B South semifinal with win over Mountain Valley

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Mountain Valley’s Brooke Carver left, has no chance to stop Poland’s Nathalie Theriault after she stole a pass and heads to the basket during the first half of Tuesday morning’s playoff game at the Portland Expo. Theriault was fouled on the play and went on to score the basket and free throw. (Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal)

PORTLAND — Poland pulled ahead in the second quarter and pulled away in the third to beat Mountain Valley 59-29 in the Class B South girls’ basketball quarterfinals Tuesday at the Portland Exposition Center.

“I think getting the ball out and pushing it up the court was key for us today,” Poland guard Nathalie Theriault said. “When we did that, we saw good things.”

Mountain Valley, meanwhile, wanted to limit Theriault’s forays into the paint. The Falcons were fairly successful in the first quarter, but Theriault turned a steal into a layup and hit a 3-pointer. She also found Jessica Seeley for a pair of buckets, and the two seniors combined to score 12 first-quarter points, and the Knights led 14-10.

“They have quite the tandem there,” Poland coach Tim Dolley said. “(Jessica) runs the floor well, and Nat can hit that pass just awesome.”

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Theriault then contributed nine points as second-seeded Poland opened the second quarter with a 12-0 run over the first six minutes.

“I think the reality is you can only keep a good team like that down so long,” Mountain Valley coach Ryan Casey said. “They didn’t seem to rattle or get panicked by the way were defending them. They just kind of waited until they got on a little bit of a run.”

Seventh-seeded Mountain Valley responded by closing the second quarter with an 8-0 run, cutting its deficit to 26-18 at the half.

“I was certainly proud of our kids for being able to go on their own run at the end of that half,” Casey said.

The Falcons made it a 10-0 run when Brooke Carver hit a long jumper at the start of the third, but Lexi Grondin and Theriault heated up, and the Knights scored 16 of the next 17 points to lead 42-21.

Dolley said the third period is when Poland’s execution reached its peak.

“We played, I’d say, pretty good second half,” Dolley said. “Our first half we kind of came out slow, but I thought they responded in the second half and put the tempo that we wanted to do against Mountain Valley.”

Theriault made three 3-pointers and finished with a game-high 23 points. Seeley added 14. Six other Knights scored, including Morgan Chouinard, who tallied six late-game points.

“I think it’s a good thing,” Theriault said. “We try to play good team basketball, and I think it’s important when we’re all scoring, we’re all passing the ball, all sharing the ball. That really helps our success.”

Brooke Carver led Mountain Valley with 10 points. Freshman Rylee Sevigny finished with six points.

The Falcons finish the season with an 11-8 record after having to replace eight seniors from last year’s team. None of this year’s players had seen playing time at the Portland Expo in Mountain Valley’s previous postseason appearances.

“We’re going to have 10 of our girls who have played on the court, if we can get back here again,” Casey said. “I think that’s a big step in the right direction.”

Poland (15-4) next faces third-seed Freeport in the B South semifinals Thursday at Cross Insurance Arena.

The Falcons won the only meeting between the teams, 54-42 on Jan. 9.

“I think it’s going to be a great matchup,” Dolley said. “Our first time against them, we didn’t shoot the ball well. Hopefully, we come ready to practice tomorrow and we can be ready for them on Thursday.”

Poland’s Nathalie Theriault floats in the lane and drops in a basket as Mountain Valley’s Rylee Sevigny, foreground, and Courtney Carver, left, have no chance to stop the high flying Knight as she dominated the game as they advance to Thursday’s semifinals. (Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal)

Mountain Valley coach Ryan Casey, right, prepares to call a timeout as his player, Brooke Carver is caught in a trap during a first half full court press by Poland’s Jessica Seeley, left and Sarah Moody, center. (Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal)

Poland girls basketball coach Tim Dolley looks at the scoreboard during Tuesday’s game against Mountain Valley. (Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal)

Mountain Valley girls basketball coach Ryan Casey reacts after an unfavorable call during Tuesday’s playoff game against Poland at the Portland Expo. (Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal)

Poland girls basketball coach Tim Dolley, left, yells directions to his player, Erin Ridley during Tuesday’s game against Mountain Valley. (Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal)

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