PORTLAND – A lot of teams have distinguished themselves throughout the short but storied history of Mountain Valley basketball, but no one has ever won back-to-back Western B championships, until now.

D.J. Gerrish’s three free throws and steal in the final 23 seconds sealed a defensive struggle as No. 3 Mountain Valley held off top-seeded Greely, 39-32, Saturday night at the Cumberland County Civic Center.

The Falcons picked up their second straight Western B championship, their third in five years, and will meet Eastern Maine champion Camden Hills at 9 p.m. Friday at the Cumberland County Civic Center.

Andy Shorey picked up his second straight Pierre “Pete” Harnois Award as the tournament’s outstanding player and paced the Falcons (18-3) with 19 points and 11 rebounds. Gerrish added 10 points, all in the second half. Caleb Jordan battled foul trouble all night and led Greely (19-2) with 15 points.

“We wanted to go get this one a little more, I think, our senior year,” Shorey said. “I think we have a good enough team to put it together and do it. I don’t even know who we’re playing yet.”

“We knew we had the capabilities to come here again. We just had to go out and play our hardest,” said junior Dean McCrillis. “It’s hard to describe, but it feels good.”

Greely trailed by 10 early in the fourth quarter but battled back to within four when Jordan scored a lay-up to make it 36-32 with 46 seconds left.

The Rangers had a chance to get closer when the Falcons turned the ball over, but Jordan missed a 3-pointer. Gerrish tracked down the loose rebound and was fouled with 23 seconds left. The senior cooly sank both, then picked up a steal in front of the Greely bench with 13 seconds left. After being fouled again, he made one of two from the charity stripe to make it a three-possession game and put it out of reach.

Greely was without the services of Jordan for much of the first half due to foul trouble. The senior scored the first two baskets of the game as Greely charged out to a 9-2 lead. But that’s all he would score in the first half. With the lead down to three, Shorey drew a charge on Jordan along the baseline, sending him to the bench with his second foul with 2:18 to go in the quarter. The Falcons struggled offensively, and the Rangers maintained the three-point edge at the end of the quarter. But Mountain Valley dug in its heels defensively from there.

“We were so out of sync today, but we defended the whole game,” said Mountain Valley coach Dave Gerrish. “I think sometimes this group knows that they’re not going to play great offensively and they’ll just dig in defensively and try to make enough plays to win it.”

“We’re a defensive-minded team. That’s what it boils down to,” D.J. Gerrish said. “When the offense isn’t coming, we look for our defense to step it up, try to make a couple of stops, fast break and get some easy lay-ups.”

Jordan returned for the start of the second quarter, but it was Shorey who made his presence known, scoring the Falcons’ first six points of the period as they took a 14-13 lead. Jordan picked up his third foul and went back to the bench with 4:30 to go in the half, and the Falcons got a nice lift from their bench. First, Bryan Canwell was in the right place at the right time when Will Grogan blocked a Shorey shot, grabbing the ball in mid-air and laying it in for two. Then, following a Gabe Balzano-Brookes 3-pointer that tied the game, Matt Lyons grabbed back-to-back offensive rebounds and converted the second to give Mountain Valley the 18-16 lead it took into halftime.

“(Foul trouble) was the key to the game,” said Greely coach Ken Marks. “The first quarter we got into foul trouble. We had a game-plan against Shorey and we just couldn’t execute it.”

Greely protected Jordan by having him guard the Falcons’ fifth offensive option, McCrillis, in the third quarter. McCrillis picked up his first hoop of the game as part of a 9-1 Mountain Valley run to open the period. Gerrish scored the next seven Falcon points, including a lay-up off a nice backdoor feed from Shorey, as the Falcons extended their lead to double digits.

Jordan finally got back on the board again for back-to-back hoops to pull the Rangers within eight heading into the fourth quarter, but he picked his fourth foul with a charge on Greely’s first possession of the period. Jordan remained in the game, but Lyons fed Shorey inside for two a short time later to put the cushion back into double digits.

Greely missed its first five shots of the final quarter but went 6-for-6 from the free throw line to whittle the deficit down to six midway through. Turnovers began to plague the Falcons as Greely started to trap, and Jordan hit a jumper to pull the Rangers within four with 2:18 left.

Shorey made it a six-point game again by putting back a Justin Staires missed free throw. The Falcons turned the ball over two more times, but Greely couldn’t take advantage, missing badly on two outside shots before Jordan scored to get the Rangers within four again.


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