DIXFIELD — Dirigo and Monmouth boys’ basketball teams battled to the bitter end.

Caleb Turner calmly sank 10 of 13 free throws, including six in overtime as Dirigo pulled together when necessary for a thrilling 62-59 victory against Monmouth.

The MVC crossover contest was the only scheduled meeting, so the contest at DeFoe Gymnasium proved to be extremely important; Dirigo (10-1) was ranked second and Monmouth (8-4) fourth, respectively, in the Heal point standings.

Dirigo took a 60-57 lead on a Turner free throw, but Monmouth guard Robbie Neal sank two free throws. The Cougars ran a delay and Turner (18 points, six assists) was fouled and made two of four free throws, plus Dirigo got the rebound, with 11 seconds left.

“We had started fast and thought we’d blow them away,” Turner said, who sank three free throws to open the extra session. “But, credit Monmouth for hanging around and coming back. At the free-throw line, we needed to be confident because we had trouble earlier. When I was at the line I thought back to the Mountain Valley (loss) and didn’t want that, again.”

The Cougars had made three of 13 free throws through three quarters, but made 13 of 18 in the fourth quarter and OT. Monmouth did have one final possession, but the Cougars’ Cody St. Germain (16 points, nine rebounds, three blocks) stole the ball and dribbled away.

“Our defensive intensity definitely picked up,” Dirigo coach Rebecca Fletcher said. “But, they made several easy (high percentage) baskets that the defense needs to improve. We tried being patient with the ball toward the end, so we need to make our free throws.’’

Monmouth forward Roger Bachelder (16 points, 12 rebounds) stole the ball and tied the game at 54-all to force overtime. The score was tied or changed sides six times as the teams made 15 of 18 shots in a scrappy fourth quarter.

“We needed to pick up the pace,” Monmouth coach Lucas Turner said, referring to the Mustangs overcoming a 21-15 deficit at halftime to lead 36-32 after three quarters. “We needed to attack the basket, and we had prepared for Dirigo’s 1-2-2 pressure (trap).”

Monmouth led 36-29 on two driving baskets by Neal before Dirigo’s Spencer Ross buried a trey. The Cougars then went on a 7-0 run to take a 49-42 lead on Josh Turbide (12 points, four steals) 3-pointer midway through the fourth quarter. Monmouth responded with a Neal three-point play and a pair of baskets by Tim Whittmore (15 points, five steals)

“We had won three games and hadn’t looked that good,” Turner said. “But today, I’d say our transition game was the best this season.”

Dirigo started fast and treys by Turner and Turbide (two) opened a 15-8 lead after the first quarter. The teams struggled in the second quarter, combined five of 18 shots

“We stayed together,” Ben Holmes said, who scored 11 points, eight rebounds (six offensive). “We could have easily started to point fingers, but that wouldn’t have been any good. Our offensive rebounding helped.”


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