And when they don’t clear it — even when their performance would satisfy any of the competition’s standards — they aren’t shy about admitting it.
Passes didn’t travel crisply. Shots didn’t fall consistently. Defensive lapses were more frequent than usual.
Oh, and No. 1 Dirigo still smacked No. 8 Sacopee Valley, 68-37, in a regional quarterfinal Monday night at Augusta Civic Center.
“The nice way to put it is survive,” Dirigo senior guard Josh Turbide said. “We came out with no intensity in the first half and they stuck around, and we can’t do that in future games.”
Turbide’s four 3-pointers and five steals helped Dirigo (18-1) overcome the stubborn 2-3 zone of Sacopee (6-13).
The Hawks intended to silence Dirigo center Cody St. Germain, and it worked for a spell. St. Germain scored 10 of his game-high 18 points in the third quarter.
Turbide added 15 points and Caleb Turner 12 for the Cougars, whose bid for a fourth consecutive regional crown moves ahead to an 8:30 p.m. Thursday semifinal against MVC rival Hall-Dale.
After beating many of its league foes by 40 or 50 points during the season, Dirigo might have approached Sacopee a little too cavalierly. The Hawks’ preliminary round victory over Telstar was only their third against a fellow Class C team all season.
“I don’t think it should be a factor. We haven’t (looked past an opponent) all year long,” Dirigo coach Travis Magnusson said. “We played hard every second, and at times tonight we didn’t. It’s back to work tomorrow and we need a better effort Thursday.”
Despite eight straight misses to start the game, encompassing the first three minutes, the Cougars cracked open a 17-8 lead by the end of the quarter. Turbide hit two from beyond the arc and Turner added five points.
Sacopee stayed within five on back-to-back buckets by Kyle Martineau early in the second period before T.J. Frost nailed 3-pointer.
Frost followed with a steal and a basket, and Hunter Ross’ theft led to a Turbide hoop that made it 24-12 in the space of 29 seconds.
“We played decent there at the end (of the half) and at some points we turned it on and off,” Turner said. “Our defense translates to our offense, so the turnovers are a big help. We didn’t do that for a big part of the game.”
Sacopee wound up with more giveaways (38) than points, while the Cougars attempted 79 shots to the Hawks’ 30.
Even with those advantages, it took another run of 9-0 to make it 33-16 at the half.
St. Germain had a putback and Turner had a drive to get it started. Turner finished the work begun by his own steal off a feed from Frost, and Turbide nailed another trey.
“They packed it in pretty good. We shot the ball well at times,” Magnusson said. “We’ve got to play a lot better than we played tonight. We’ve go to play harder with more enthusiasm.”
Turbide and Ben Holmes each connected from 3-point range to help put it away in the third.
“I think their zone got to us,” Turbide said. “We weren’t moving the ball at all on offense. We settled too much for the outside shots. What we’ve got to do against that is keep moving and feed the post, and we barely got any looks into Cody and Ben.”
Martineau led Sacopee with 11 points and nine rebounds. Jeff Taylor, the Hawks’ 6-foot-5 center, added nine points and nine boards.
Dirigo beat Class B semifinalist and rival Spruce Mountain by 22 in this building one week ago. Maybe that makes it easier to understand why a margin of 30-plus didn’t satisfy the Cougars in their tourney debut.
“I think we saw a little bit of the hype against the game,” Turner said. “That’s not a good excuse. We’ve got to come out with intensity and play our best every night. We didn’t play our best tonight for most of the game.”
“Like Coach said, any win is a good win in Augusta,” Turbide added. “We’re just going to move forward.”