Lewiston and St. Dom’s shouldn’t be uncomfortable with the boys’ basketball tournament atmosphere. They’ve each lived in it for about three weeks.

With six games remaining in the Mountain Valley Conference season, the Saints sat 16th out of 20 teams in Western Class C.

Five games from the conclusion of the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference campaign, the Devils dipped to 11th out of 15 in Eastern Class A.

Far below the 50-50 threshold a team needs to cross to qualify for the playoffs, in both cases.

“We won six games in a row, and if we lost any of the six, we’d be done,” St. Dom’s coach Ryan Deschenes said.

“I told them we needed to win four our of five, and we got the first four,” noted Lewiston coach Tim Farrar.

St. Dom’s (9-9) survived a wacky final week to qualify for Wednesday’s Class C preliminary round. Lewiston (9-9) enjoyed a little more breathing room, advancing directly to the Eastern A quarterfinals at Augusta Civic Center next Saturday, Feb. 18 despite a loss in its final contest.

Thirteen local boys’ teams qualified for tournament play when the Heal Points became official Saturday.

Leading the charge are Western Class C No. 1 seed Dirigo (16-2) and Eastern Class A No. 3 Edward Little (17-1).

Also making the field: No. 4 Mt. Blue in Eastern A; No. 5 Mountain Valley, No. 6 Leavitt and No. 8 Gray-New Gloucester in Western B; No. 6 Monmouth, No. 7 Telstar and No. 8 Livermore Falls in Western C; and No. 6 Elan and No. 8 Rangeley in Western D.

Lewiston’s late-season surge included wins over fellow playoff teams Brunswick and Mt. Ararat and ended a lengthy tournament drought.

“It’s our first time going to the Big House in nine years,” Farrar said. “I think the only person who was around here that would remember nine years ago was (junior) Shawn Ricker, and he was 7.”

The Devils competed in Western Maine and played at Cumberland County Civic Center in Portland that 2002 season. Lewiston also lost preliminary games in 2005 and 2006.

Led by a strong junior class and only two seniors, Sheldon Jones and Abdi Osman, Lewiston improved by seven wins from its 2-16 record in each of Farrar’s first two seasons.

“I’m glad we took care it before (Thursday’s loss to Edward Little),” Farrar said. “I think the kids are a little tired. It’ll be nice to have a week to get ready.”

Lewiston will face No. 2 Hampden at 5:30 p.m. Saturday. The teams did not meet during the regular-season.

St. Dom’s travels to Livermore Falls for its preliminary game. The winner will meet Dirigo on Monday, Feb. 21 in the quarterfinals of what shapes up as an unpredictable Western C tourney.

Livermore Falls hosted St. Dom’s and eked out a 43-35 victory in the second week of the regular season. The Andies were last year’s top seed and regional runner-up and feature an all-senior starting lineup.

What the Saints lack in relative experience, they hope to make up with their character-building march. Midseason overtime losses to Monmouth and then-undefeated Mountain Valley set the stage for the six-game winning streak.

“We were down 16 to Mountain Valley in the third quarter and actually came back to take the lead,” Deschenes said. “I told the guys after that it dropped us to 3-9, but if we played like that the rest of the season we’d win out.”

St. Dom’s defeated No. 2 Boothbay, No. 5 Wiscasset and Monmouth during the surge.

Even so, it almost wasn’t enough. On a dizzying final night, Telstar knocked off Mountain Valley and No. 11 Jay toppled Dirigo. The Saints likely needed the victory over Monmouth to keep the Tigers from swiping the final playoff spot.

EL dominated the KVAC South and dropped its only other point-worthy game, a road verdict at Hampden.

That was enough to keep the Red Eddies third. You won’t hear an admittedly superstitious coach Mike Adams complaining. He remembers a 2007 first-round loss to Hampden after an 18-0 conference ledger.

“I think the Heal Points got it right. Bangor and Hampden were the two best teams throughout the year,” Adams said.

The Eddies eye their third straight Eastern Maine title and fourth straight trip to the regional final. EL draws Mt. Ararat, a division rival it defeated twice in convincing fashion.

In the Eastern A four-five game, Mt. Blue (14-4) meets Lawrence. The Bulldogs have been a recent playoff nemesis, handing the Cougars a stunning semifinal loss two years ago.

The Western B quarterfinals begin Saturday at Portland Expo before the tournament moves to the nearby civic center for the later rounds. Mountain Valley dropped into a match-up with Yarmouth after losing its last two regular-season games. Leavitt (14-4) posted its largest win total in 45 years and will take on York.

Gray-New Gloucester hosts a Wednesday prelim against Maranacook.

Monmouth makes its first Western C quarterfinal appearance since 1977 against Old Orchard Beach.

Telstar’s win over Mountain Valley secured a preliminary home game. Traip makes the long drive from Kittery to take on the No. 7 Rebels (12-6), with Boothbay awaiting the winner.

Class D quarterfinals are Saturday in Augusta. Elan gets an 8:30 a.m. start against four-time defending regional champ No. 3 Richmond. No. 8 Rangeley returns to the tourney after a multi-year hiatus to face No. 1 Forest Hills.

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