PORTLAND – It started with a lane violation on a made free throw.

That was all the opening top-seeded Mountain Valley needed to wrest control of a hard-fought Western Class B title game in the fourth quarter.

The Falcons outscored No. 3 Falmouth 14-8 after that and picked up their second regional crown in four years with a 47-40 victory Saturday at the Cumberland County Civic Center.

Mtn. Valley (21-0) will meet Eastern B champion Maranacook for the state championship next Friday night at the Bangor Auditorium. Falmouth finishes the season 17-4.

“We’ve been playing close games all along this year. People talk about our Class C schedule being easy, but we had close games with Dirigo, close games with Boothbay,” said senior captain Travis Fergola, who finished with seven points and five big assists. “Coach is always harping about keeping our heads, playing together and playing smart.”

The Falcons played smart and played together in crunch time. In the span of 42 seconds, Fergola found Andy Shorey (13 points, 11 rebounds, four assists) and Marcus Palmer (nine points) for huge back-to-back hoops and D.J. Gerrish drew a crucial charging call on Falmouth star Bryant Barr (24 points).

But it all began with what appeared to be a game-tying free throw by Falmouth’s Sam Barns shortly after a Fergola jumper put the Falcons ahead by two. The second of two freebies by Barns was waved off for a lane violation by the Yachtsmen with 3:58 left, allowing the Falcons to maintain the slimmest of leads, 33-32.

Falmouth never came that close again. Palmer hit a jumper on the Falcons’ next possession. A 10-second call on Falmouth, two misses by the Falcons and another free throw by Barns followed to make it a two-point game. Fergola then passed to Shorey in the right corner for a 3-pointer that made it 38-33.

“It took me a second (to decide whether I wanted to shoot it). I caught the ball in the corner and I wanted to shoot it but I was like I don’t know if I should shoot this, we’re only up by two,'” Shorey said. “It went in and I felt good after that.”

Gerrish made the Falcon faithful feel good on Falmouth’s next possession by drawing a player-control foul on Barr in the backcourt. Fergola then shoveled a pass to a wide open Palmer on the other side of the lane for a lay-up that made it 40-33 with 1:17 left. All that was left was for Mtn. Valley to hit its free throws in the final minutes, which it did (five of six).

The Yachtsmen had to overcome a disastrous first quarter to even make the final minutes suspenseful. They were three seconds from being shut out in the opening period as the Falcons eschewed their traditional man-to-man defense and started the game in a diamond-and-one designed to deny Barr, a Mr. Basketball finalist, the basketball.

Freshman Justin Staires drew the assignment of guarding the senior Barr to start the game and picked up three fouls just three minutes in. Sophomore Bryan Canwell replaced him and not only did a good job on Barr but picked up two inside hoops that, combined with a pair of 3-pointers from Shorey and one from Byron Glaus, staked the Falcons to a 13-0 lead. Falmouth missed its first seven shots and needed a Falcon turnover that led to an uncontested lay-up for Barr to get on the board at all in the quarter.

“I think we came in expecting them to play us straight up man-to-man defense, but it took us the whole first quarter to get adjusted to the game,” Barr said. “We ended up coming up short at the end and that first quarter was the difference in the game.”

“We wanted to give Justin Staires and Bryan Canwell a chance to cover a little bit because they do a great job in practice. They’re physical kids with no fear,” Falcons coach Dave Gerrish said.

The Falcons switched back to their man defense in the second quarter, which seemed to relax Barr, who started taking the ball to the hoop and drew contact often. Mountain Valley, meanwhile, went stone cold from the field (2-for-10) and allowed the Yachtsmen to outscore them, 14-2, in the final six minutes of the half to pull within one at intermission.

“Tournament games are games of runs, in my opinion. You make a run and they’re going to make a run,” Dave Gerrish said. “Falmouth is a good basketball team and we knew they were going to make the game close again. It’s never over in the first quarter.”

Barr scored on a leaner in the lane 48 seconds into the third quarter to give Falmouth its first lead at 18-17. Fergola scored off a feed from Shorey to put the Falcons in front again. Barr answered with another hoop, and although they would go on to tie the game five more times, the Falcons wouldn’t lead again until Fergola scored his next bucket midway through the fourth quarter.

The good news for Mtn. Valley was that although Barr was getting untracked, he wasn’t getting much help. Only one other Yachtsman, Adam Packard (eight points), scored more than two points.

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