PORTLAND – In the last 12 months, the Mountain Valley Falcons have made themselves at home in virtually all of Portland’s athletic landmarks – the Cumberland County Civic Center, the Portland Expo, even neighboring Fitzpatrick Stadium (those of the pigskin persuasion, at least).

Maybe this summer, the Rumford school should send a contingent to hang out at Hadlock Field or Deering Oaks Park to make their bloodless takeover of the city complete.

The defending Western B champions opened this year’s quarterfinals with a crisp, efficient 74-46 dismantling of sixth-seeded Freeport at the venerable Expo Tuesday.

“For whatever reason, we like coming down to Portland to play basketball,” Mountain Valley coach Dave Gerrish said. “We had a great time at Christmas (when the Falcons took Class A power Deering to overtime in the Xmas tourney semifinals), but it wouldn’t matter to us if (the tournament) was here or the Civic Center, to be honest with you.”

The third-seeded Falcons found the hot hand early in Andy Shorey, who dominated in the low post for their first 10 points. Then they kept finding the hot hand, no matter who it was, and shot 59 percent for the game.

Shorey’s all-around talents were on full display, producing 26 points, nine boards, three assists, two steals and a block. Four other Falcons made less prolific but no less well-rounded contributions to the cause – D.J. Gerrish (13 points, three assists), Owen Jones (10 points), Matt Lyons (eight points and five boards off the bench) and Justin Staires (six points, five rebounds, five assists).

“We played calm. We played like we can,” Shorey said. “We just made open shots. We hit the shots when they were open. We didn’t force any shots. We played smart.”

Mountain Valley (16-3) faces seventh-seeded Cape Elizabeth in the semifinals at 7 p.m. Friday night at the Cumberland County Civic Center.

The Falcons led by 10 after one, 11 at the half and 17 heading into the fourth quarter. They turned the ball over just 11 times, tallied 18 assists with their 30 field goals and limited Freeport (11-8) to 31 percent shooting. They ruled the inside with Shorey, stung Freeport from the outside when the defense collapsed into the paint (6-for-12 from 3-point land) and ran when they had the opportunity. By the time Staires and Shorey channeled the autumn football exploits in the Expo’s backyard by completing long, down-and-out passes for layups on back-to-back plays that capped a 17-0 run, they had broken down a tall, fairly athletic Freeport team practically every which way.

“We were pretty hungry to get out and play again,” said D.J. Gerrish, whose team had more than a week layoff. “We love tournament time and we love playing down here. We came down here for the Christmas tournament and got a good feel for it, so we were definitely pumped to come down here and play.”

“One of the keys was their ability to shoot the ball,” said Freeport coach Craig Sickels. “In the first half, we had them 11-for-16 in the paint and 4-for-6 from the 3-point line. They’re a tough matchup for anybody just because they’ve got bigs (big men), they’ve got guards that can handle, guards who can shoot.”

After pounding the paint, Shorey opened the middle up with a 3-pointer to reclaim the momentum when Freeport closed to within five midway through the second quarter. Lyons then came off the bench and provided more inside scoring, converting nice feeds from Matt Laubauskas and Gerrish as Mountain Valley began to pull away late in the half.

Freeport senior Danny Mehler (14 points, 10 rebounds) cut the deficit to single digits to open the second half. Mountain Valley responded with a 13-2 run that consisted of a Jones hoop, a 3-pointer from Gerrish, traditional 3-point plays by Shorey and Dean McCrillis, and a powerful putback by Jones. Jones later beat the buzzer and broke Freeport’s back with a 3 to make it 50-33.

Jon Klages led Freeport with 15 points, but their all 6-foot-4 front line of Mehler, Klages and Erik Crone never got much going in the paint.

“We hadn’t played for eight days (except for a scrimmage with Bonny Eagle Monday), but we came out and played pretty decent,” Mountain Valley coach Dave Gerrish said. “We need to make sure we take better care of the ball. But other than that, we played good man-to-man, and took away their two big guys for most of the game.”


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