WINTHROP – Fourteen wins don’t get enough attention when you’re the good ol’ reliable Mountain Valley High School boys’ basketball program, and there’s probably way too much squawking over three losses.

In Tuesday night’s convincing 63-51 Mountain Valley Conference road victory over Winthrop, the Falcons looked like the team most opponents know and fear.

Andy Shorey led four Falcons in double figures with 20 points and 12 rebounds, giving Class B Mountain Valley (14-3) the regular-season sweep of Class C Winthrop (15-2) in a clash of reigning regional champions.

“Over the second half of the season, we’ve kind of lost our intensity and our fire,” said Shorey, a 6-foot-4 senior captain. “The second half tonight, we came out with a lot of fire. I hope that shows we’ve got it back.”

Owen Jones scored 12 of his 16 points in the second half to help Mountain Valley recover from a modest 25-23 halftime deficit. He added nine rebounds, five assists and four steals.

Justin Staires knocked down a pair of 3-pointers in a decisive third-quarter run on his way to 15 points and seven assists. Dean McCrillis added 11 points.

Swept by Dirigo and defeated by Boothbay in its other top-tier MVC showdowns, Mountain Valley twice have whacked Winthrop by double digits. The Falcons found their wings this time with a 24-8 surge in the third quarter, committing only one turnover while restricting the Ramblers to 3-of-10 shooting.

“We’ve played Mountain Valley five times since I’ve been here and never beaten them,” said third-year Winthrop coach Dennis Dacus, whose team has clinched a berth in the Western Class C quarterfinals. “Some teams just have your number, just like we have some other teams’ number.”

Most of the numbers favored Mountain Valley, namely Winthrop turnovers (16), struggles from the free-throw line (5-for-13) and Falcons’ offensive rebounds (six in the third quarter).

Winthrop rallied from an early 13-4 deficit to enjoy the one-possession edge at intermission, but even then, Mountain Valley’s defense set the agenda. The Falcons contained Winthrop stars Sam Leclerc and Mike Gingras to a combined three points in the second and third quarters, all coming on a Gingras 3-pointer with less than a minute remaining in the first half.

Leclerc and Gingras each finished with 16 points, but 17 of the 32 came in the fourth period after the matter was moot. Gingras hit four 3-pointers. Leclerc locked down seven rebounds and doled out five assists.

“We’ve worked hard at getting our intensity back,” said Mountain Valley coach Dave Gerrish, “and I thought we did that in the second half defensively. We haven’t really been able to put our finger on (what’s been missing). Young men’s emotions go up-and-down. There are a lot of peaks and valleys.”

Winthrop opened the second-half scoring on a short jumper by Jason Ridley (eight points). McCrillis answered with a traditional 3-point play. On the next possession, McCrillis corralled an offensive rebound and fed Staires for the 3-pointer that put the Falcons ahead for good.

Jones and Shorey dominated the baseline and the backboards in the quarter, and Winthrop hit only one field goal in the final 5:15.

“People might say we only play a Class C schedule, but those teams (Winthrop, Boothbay and Dirigo) are some of the best in the state,” Shorey said. “I don’t care what class they’re in.”

With the win and a home game against Mt. Abram remaining, Mountain Valley should open its title defense in Portland during school vacation week as the No. 2 or No. 3 seed in Western B. Winthrop rounds out the league schedule with Hall-Dale before enjoying a competitive kickoff to its bye week, meeting Dirigo in the MVC championship game Monday in Augusta.


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.