AUGUSTA – Compared to its quarterfinal victory and many of its Mountain Valley Conference triumphs this winter, Dirigo High School received a challenge Thursday night.

No. 5 Traip Academy still was no match. The top-seeded Cougars rolled the Rangers, 67-54, in a Western Class C boys’ semifinal at Augusta Civic Center and moved within a game of their first regional title since 1983.

Dirigo’s senior backcourt gave Traip fits throughout. Spencer Berry topped the Cougars with 17 points and 10 rebounds. He hit a 3-pointer in each of the second, third and fourth periods to keep the Rangers at bay.

Josh Daley also put up 17 points, 11 from the free-throw line, while doling out six assists.

“The guards are who we didn’t expect to play as well as they did,” said Traip coach Jeremy Paul. “We knew Spencer Berry could shoot. We just didn’t get out on him.”

Colby Knapp chipped in 14 points and six rebounds down low, while 6-foot-10 sophomore center Tom Knight overcame foul difficulties and caused a commotion with eight points, six blocked shots and six boards.

One versus two has materialized in Western C, where Dirigo (19-1) will meet second-seeded Mountain Valley Conference rival Boothbay for the title at 8:45 p.m. Saturday. The Cougars claimed victory at home in the lone regular-season clash.

“I thought the guys would be excited to play somebody different. We just didn’t seem to have that fire tonight,” said Dirigo coach Gavin Kane. “We obviously need to regain that if we want to have the opportunity to play for a state championship.”

Trevor Higgins led all scorers with 21 points for Traip, which edged Western Maine Conference rival Waynflete in the quarterfinals.

Andre Plummer added 13 for the Rangers. His team never went away after a sluggish start but couldn’t get over the invisible hump, either.

“Our intensity was non-existent in the first half,” Paul said. “For a team that’s been together three years, that disappointed me. If we could’ve had that start back, it would have been great.”

Knight hit two relatively unguarded shots to start the drumbeat for Dirigo, which raced to a 12-4 lead and never trailed.

The Cougars led 26-10 before Traip used a flurry of second-chance buckets and perimeter hoops to pull within nine, 33-24, at the half. Dirigo scored the first five points after intermission on a Knight free throw and two hoops by Berry on a put-back and a give-and-go.

Traip never nudged closer than eight thereafter, in part because Dirigo connected at better than 50 percent from the floor through the first three quarters.

“We did enough to advance,” Kane said. “We just didn’t show that same intensity on the defensive end.”

As the lone WMC outsider, Traip felt that its regular-season battles with Class B tournament teams Freeport, York and Cape Elizabeth would give it an edge.

“I look at the bottom teams in the MVC, and they’re not very good at all,” Paul said. “I felt that we faced better competition.”

Dirigo eliminated Traip in last year’s quarterfinal round before losing to Winthrop on a last-second shot in the semis.


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