RUMFORD — When Chrissy Briggs drilled a 3-pointer to close out the opening quarter, it upped the ante Monday night.

Mountain Valley was starting to pull away, and Briggs’ shot was a challenge for Dirigo to match. It was a call the Cougars couldn’t answer.

The Falcons opened up the lead in that first quarter and barely looked back in a convincing 50-31 win over Dirigo.

“That was big,” said Briggs of her 3 that turned a five-point lead into an eight-point advantage to end the first. “It pumped us all up. That gave us a lot of momentum.”

Mountain Valley opened the lead to double digits in the second and cruised in the second half. Dirigo defeated the Falcons 39-38 last month, but the Cougars just didn’t have it in the rematch.

“They’re much better than that,” said Dirigo coach Reggie Weston of his Cougars. “I had all my players back for the first time. A couple will have to get used to playing together, but it was just a bad night for us all around.”

Dirigo turned the ball over too many times early. The Cougars rushed shots and when they finally got quality looks from their best shooters, the shots just didn’t drop. Dirigo shot 4-for-11 in the first quarter and 1-for-11 in the second.  Dirigo went more than five minutes without a basket at one point in the first half, and the Cougars had six turnovers in the first quarter.

“Down at Livermore we had a game like this,” said Weston. “We shot a lot of air balls, but this late in the season, we don’t miss like that very often. That’s the way it goes. That’s part of the game.”

Ayla Allen led the Falcons (13-4) with 16 points while Briggs had 13, seven in the first quarter. Makayla White added nine while Mountain Valley also got scoring from McKenzie Paterson, Lindsay Gallant, Breana Roberts and Brooke Dolloff.

“We’ve got range,” said Mountain Valley coach Rich Allen. “We’ve got kids that can square up and knock them down. That takes a lot of pressure of trying to go through one person.”

Dirigo (12-5) got eight each from Alyssa Wade and Hannah Knight.

The Falcons defense did a superb job forcing Dirigo to the outside, where the Cougars struggled to hit. Dirigo’s offense never quite got in sync early. The Cougars played hard and continued to battle but struggled to find scoring.

“We switched on and off from the zone to man-to-man,” said Briggs. “We wanted to give them something different, and we came out and played hard.”

The teams traded baskets early, but then Allen scored, Briggs hit two free throws and scored off a steal. After a Wade jumper, Briggs hit the 3 for a 14-6 lead.

To open the second, Briggs hit a jumper and Lindsay Gallant cut through the middle for a hoop and 18-6 lead. Dirigo managed just three points in the second. Four points by White late in the half opened the lead to 22-9.

The lead got to as many as 20 in the third. Dirigo plugged away and  finally produced its best run of the game in the fourth with an 8-2 surge. Knight, Wade and Paige Murphy all scored but that was the extent of any consistent offense for the Cougars.

“We eliminated runs,” said Allen,  comparing this win to the previous loss to Dirigo. “We played fairly solid pretty much from beginning to end.”

Dirigo is currently in fifth in Western C and finishes the regular season Wednesday with Jay. Mountain Valley plays Telstar and was fourth in the latest Western B standings.

“It feels good with this win,” said Briggs. “Coach like it. The team enjoyed it. We have a lot of momentum going into the tournament.”

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Click here to see more action photos of the Mt Valley- Dirigo girls basketbaal game.

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