PORTLAND – Mountain Valley High School’s February vacation week has looked like any other random December or January stretch in the Mountain Valley Conference.

Andy Shorey runs roughshod as the quintessential big man with the skills of a shooting guard.

D.J. Gerrish and Justin Staires play pickpocket, drain 3-pointers and run the Falcons’ half-court offense so flawlessly that it makes the opposing coach both envious and queasy.

With the defense overextended and in the grip of a full-fledged panic attack, Owen Jones and Dean McCrillis work the baseline for a flurry of painfully easy lay-ups. Matt Lyons leaves the bench and does the same.

Oh, and the Falcons win, with alarming ease.

No. 3 Mountain Valley defeated No. 7 Cape Elizabeth by technical knockout, 62-33, in Friday night’s Western Class B semifinal at Cumberland County Civic Center. It was a smoldering sequel to Tuesday’s 74-46 quarterfinal quashing of Freeport at the Portland Expo.

Excepting the longer bus ride and higher stakes, those triumphs didn’t look much tougher to the naked eye than any of the random 70-something to 20-something floggings conducted in the course of normal MVC events.

“It’s not easy,” said Shorey, who winced when asked why the Falcons (17-3) haven’t experienced any angst in the second, third or fourth quarter of their last two games. “We don’t really know any of these teams. We don’t know how good they are. We don’t really know how good we are yet.”

Thirteen Class C teams and one other non-tournament Class B team shared MVC residence with the Falcons this winter. The overriding train of thought south of Maine Turnpike Exit 75 is that most of those opponents didn’t adequately prepare Mountain Valley for the athleticism and battle toughness of Western Maine Conference tourney foes.

In fact, the exact opposite is proving true.

Mountain Valley is one game away from its third regional title in five years (Greely stands in the way at 9 p.m. tonight). And this journey bears no resemblance to the first two. The Falcons are dominating the Western B field in a way they haven’t since tournament legends Matt Gaudet and Andy Bedard led the newly merged Rumford-Mexico school to the Gold Ball in 1990 and 1994.

“When we play as a team, we believe we’re as good as any team in the state. We’re a team that’s built for pressure,” said Jones, whose quiet 10 points matched Cape Elizabeth’s top scorer in a supporting role to Staires (20 points) and Shorey (12).

If the Falcons are playing with an MVC-sized chip on their shoulder, it is hard to blame them.

Although the predominantly Class C schedule is maligned in many circles, consider that the two teams that dealt Mountain Valley its three losses – Dirigo and Boothbay – will collide tonight with the Western C title on the line in Augusta.

MVC champion Winthrop couldn’t even make it to the Class C final four, and Mountain Valley routed the Ramblers twice during the regular season.

Nobody in a cobalt blue and silver uniform is thumping his chest in celebration or playing the obligatory “respect” card, at least not yet.

“We don’t really look at it that way. I always look at it like we have three seasons,” said Mountain Valley coach Dave Gerrish. “We have summer basketball, our conference, and the tournament. We always just look at trying to win the next game.”


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