AUBURN — For two teams that had never shared the boys’ basketball court in a regular-season game, Livermore Falls and St. Dom’s didn’t have any shortage of information or opinions about one another.

The relationship between the new Mountain Valley Conference rivals already crosses the boundaries of at least three different sports. The Andies have the upper hand on the hardwood, for now, after Thursday night’s topsy-turvy 57-47 victory over the Saints at Callahan Family Gymnasium.

St. Dom’s only joined the MVC this school year. But the two schools, separated by roughly 30 minutes of travel time on Route 4, already have cultivated a contentious relationship in baseball and boys’ soccer playoff games past.

“We were ready to play. Not a lot of us really like St. Dom’s,” said Livermore Falls senior Willie Brown, who brought 11 points off the bench. “We have a lot of animosity toward them. We definitely had to get up for this game, and it wasn’t too hard to do that.”

Maybe those emotions were responsible for both teams blowing a nine-point lead. St. Dom’s watched an 18-9 advantage turn into a 28-22 halftime deficit, only to roar back from a 33-24 disparity to snag a 38-37 edge at the end of the third quarter.

Mike Armstrong and Khyle Whittemore each made one of two free throws in the final 22 seconds of that period to trigger a decisive 15-1 run by the Andies.

The end result was a far cry from the 53-point margin of victory Livermore Falls (2-0) inflicted upon Mt. Abram in Monday’s season-opener.

“It makes us want to work that much harder to blow somebody else out,” Armstrong said.

Depth, defense, running and rebounding carried the Andies on a night of streaky shooting.

Chandler White led four Livermore Falls players in double digits with 13 points, including six in the fourth quarter. Derek Castonguay scored eight of his 12 points in the final period and hauled down 11 rebounds.

Armstrong added 10 points and 10 caroms. But perhaps no contribution meant more than Tom Ventrella’s 21 rebounds. Livermore Falls enjoyed a two-to-one glass advantage in the first half and 48-31 for the game.

“Tommy was a man in there,” said Livermore Falls coach Travis Magnusson. “That’s what we do. We battled tonight. We’re tough. We stayed focused even after we got off to a bad start. And it’s not that we played that bad. (St. Dom’s) did some good things.”

Nathan Poulin and T.J. Novella nailed back-to-back 3-pointers in the final minute to give the Saints a 14-7 lead after one quarter. More nice ball movement earned Novella an inside bucket on St. Dom’s first possession of the second stanza, and two free throws by Peter Keaney later kept the lead at nine.

Armstrong answered with a lay-up off a behind-the-back pass from Whittemore, who added a 3-pointer and a put-back himself to launch the Andies’ comeback.

St. Dom’s (1-2) went nearly six minutes between its only two field goals of the quarter. Brown, Ventrella and Castonguay punctuated the half with eight straight points.

“They do that to a lot of teams. They’re one of the top teams in our class,” said St. Dom’s coach Ryan Deschenes, whose team reached the Western Class C semifinals last winter. “We knew they’d make a lot of runs and we’d have to withstand it. We did at times, and at other times we didn’t.”

Brown’s 3-pointer with 5:10 remaining in the third made it a 33-24 Livermore Falls lead. 

Keaney, who led all scorers with 16 points, summoned St. Dom’s response by scoring two quick baskets and setting up another Novella 3-pointer. Poulin (12 points) dropped his second bomb of the night from beyond the arc to retrieve the lead with 1:31 to go.

“We thought Poulin was the key for them. Even the ones that didn’t fall were in-and-out and looked good,” Magnusson said. “The key for us was having three guys rebound in double digits.”

St. Dom’s corraled only one offensive rebound in the first half and four through the first three quarters, a shortfall that compounded its 20-for-62 (32 percent) shooting.

And while the Saints went nearly four minutes without a field goal in the decisive fourth quarter, Livermore Falls scored the first nine points — seven from Castonguay and Armstrong — to slither away.

“We never gave up,” Castonguay said. “We needed to play defense hard and pressure them hard.”

Livermore Falls buckled down and shut out Keaney in the fourth quarter. He left after bumping his knee in a collision with 3:06 remaining, although Deschenes said he wasn’t seriously hurt.

Novella notched eight points for St. Dom’s. Tim Day contributed 10 rebounds, three steals and three blocked shots.

“No loss is a good loss, but they’re an outstanding team and we took them right to the end,” Deschenes said. “Maybe we’ll see them again in February.”

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