DIXFIELD — It was certainly a tail of two halves, but a torrid start by the Dirigo boy’s basketball team proved to be enough as  the Cougars remained unbeaten after a Mountain Valley Conference clash.

Tyler Chiasson scored 14 of 25 points in the first half and the Cougars made their free throws down the stretch in a 66-53 win against previously unbeaten Livermore Falls at Defoe Gymnasium.

There was a lot on the line in this early-season game.

Dirigo (5-0) had jumped out on top by utilizing its running style and defensive pressure to build a double-digit lead. Chiasson led the way with three 3-pointers and the Cougars had Livermore Falls on the ropes. The Andies turned the ball over nine times and made one of 10 shots after trailing 19-2 after one quarter.

“We started out with good pressure,” said Dirigo senior guard Eric Bolduc, who scored 13 points, with four assists and three steals. “We took the ball right at them. Our season started out slow after winning the football state championship, but now we’d had time to work together.”

Livermore Falls (3-1) proved to be its own worst enemy by making too many unforced errors and trailed 38-10 at halftime. A key adjustment was switching to a 2-2-1 zone in the third quarter and it changed the complexion of the game. Chandler White scored 23 of his game-high 27 points in the second half, Derek Castonguay added 14 and guard Tom Ventrella had 10 rebounds.

“I don’t know if it was the players nerves or what,” Livermore Falls coach Travis Mangnusson said. “But give all the credit to Dirigo because they played well and had great intensity.”

The Andies sliced in to the lead with two baskets inside by Mike Armstrong and White made the score 43-31 early in the fourth quarter.

“Our adjustments were quite simple,” Mangnusson said. “Dirigo had scored a lot of points off turnovers, so we needed to protect the ball.”

The Cougars misfired in the third quarter (four of 19 shots), but pushed the lead back up as Nic Crutchfield tipped in an offensive rebound and Tyler Gates (nine points) made a pair of baskets. Dirigo made 14 of 19 free throws in the fourth quarter.

“We had a strong hold of the lead,”Cougar guard Spencer Ross said. “In the second half, Livermore Falls tried getting it back, but we were determined not to let them have it.”

The Dirigo defense forced 21 turnovers by constantly trapping the Andies guards. The took several charges, but shot 30 percent for the game. The Cougars Kyle Hutchinson received an elbow in the chin that required stitches.

“It is difficult to keep up a pace like we had,” Dirigo coach Dave Gerrish said. “Eventually it evens out because there’s a curve there, and it did for us.”


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