In three tournament games, the top-seeded Cougars (20-1) outscored their opponents 227-106, or by an average of 40.3 points per game, on their way to their fourth consecutive regional championship.
They will take another crack at winning their first state title since 1983, and get another crack at the team that denied them the Gold Ball last year, Eastern Maine champion Lee Academy, next Saturday night at the ACC.
“It feels great. We’re going to come at them this time,” senior center Cody St. Germain said. “We weren’t really ready for the last game. We’re going to focus the whole week on them.”
“We want revenge,” senior guard Josh Turbide said.
No. 6 Old Orchard Beach (13-8) hung around until midway through the third quarter before bowing to Dirigo’s defense, balance and tournament experience.
St. Germain, the Harry Edwards Award winner as the tournament’s outstanding player, posted game highs with 24 points and 12 rebounds. Turbide complemented him outside with 14 points and Ben Holmes helped him dominate the paint with 11 points and eight rebounds.
Quincy Grace paced Old Orchard with 13 points while Joe Gildard chipped in with 12.
Dirigo unveiled its inside-out balance quickly against OOB’s 2-3 zone. Holmes owned the glass and got the Cougars on the board first with a putback. Holmes and Turbide went back-to-back on 3-pointers and it was 8-0 less than two minutes in.
“Coach (Travis Magnusson) was telling us he was 95 percent sure they were going to come out in a zone so he just told me to look for my shot and when I’m open, stick it,” Turbide said. “I was fortunate enough to get some early looks there early on.”
Turbide drilled two more 3s while Holmes and St. Germain scored underneath to drive the margin to double digits at 19-6 at the end of the opening quarter.
“That (defense) had been our strength. We had played that pretty well and teams hadn’t hit that outside shot, and tonight they did,” Old Orchard Beach coach John Regan said. “Credit to them for hitting the shots.”
With the help of six Cougar turnovers in the first four minutes, OOB opened the second quarter with an 11-2 run to claw its way back into the game.
“We stopped moving on offense,” Turbide said. “They really packed it in on that zone and we weren’t hitting open shots anymore. It’s moments like that when we need to really feed Ben and Cody in the post.”
Anthony Langella-Laws’ jumper pulled the Seagulls to within 21-17 with 4:18 left in the half, but that would be their last field goal until intermission.
The Cougars doubled-up the Seagulls on the boards in the first half, 16-8, and St. Germain’s putback put the lead back into double digits for halftime, 28-18.
“We really focused on getting (Grace) into foul trouble, boxing him out and keeping him out of the paint,” St. Germain said. “That was a big part of our rebounding.”
They crashed the boards some more at the start of the third and widened the margin to 15 on a pair of Caleb Turner putbacks sandwiched around Turbide’s fast break layup. St. Germain’s up-and-under move gave them their largest lead to that point at 38-23.
Gildard briefly cut the deficit to 12 with a 3-pointer midway through the third, but Dirigo had it up to 17 by the end of the quarter and 20 inside of the first minute of the fourth quarter.
“You’ve got to play the perfect game to beat them,” Regan said.