AUGUSTA — Rick White knows the experts are going to come out of the woodwork after Mountain Valley’s convincing loss to Yarmouth in Saturday’s Western Class B quarterfinal.

“I know people are going to say MVC versus Western Maine Conference, but I don’t think (the final score) was the difference between the Western Maine Conference and the MVC,” the second-year Mountain Valley coach said. “I think it’s a matter of a team that outplayed another team and executed much better than the other team.”

White is half right. His Falcons were indeed outplayed and out-executed in every aspect of the 77-52 drubbing.

But sorry Rick, WMC vs. MVC had a lot to do with it.

And you know what? WMC vs. KVAC had a lot to do with York beating Leavitt earlier in the day, too (albeit by a much narrower margin).

White was merely echoing the same sentiments verbalized by every other Mountain Valley coach who has ever seen his team eliminated early in the Western B tournament. Heck, I would almost swear I heard his voice morph into Ryan Casey’s or Dave Gerrish’s while he said it, but that was probably just my mind playing tricks on me.

Fair or not, Mountain Valley often seems required to justify its presence in the tournament every year because it is the Class B Goliath in a Class C conference. Sometimes, as when Casey’s Falcons won the West in 2003 and Gerrish guided them to back-to-back titles in 2006 and 2007, actions spoke louder than words. More often, the MVC’s critics have had the last word.

Frankly, it doesn’t matter how tough the MVC was this year. Or that the prohibitive favorite to win the whole darn thing in Class B, Camden Hills, comes out of the KVAC. The WMC is loaded this year, and anyone, including some fringe tournament teams from the SMAA and KVAC Class A, would have a hard time making it out of this weekend alive against its elite representative.

Let’s start with the 1 vs. 8 matchup and the fact that working the sidelines for No. 8 was Tony DiBiase. Not many 8 seeds have a coach with over 400 wins and multiple state titles to his credit. And, oh by the way, the Patriots pretty much had their way with Maranacook of the KVAC in the prelims.

Yet there was one of the state’s living coaching legends helpless to stop a buzz saw in top-seeded Greely. The Rangers are big, athletic, led by relentless senior guard Sam Johnston, and coached by Ken Marks, who isn’t that far behind DiBiase in career wins.

They are also, in DiBiase’s opinion, about as good as any team going right now.

“They may be playing as well as anybody, even Cheverus (the top seed in A West),” DiBiase said.

Then there’s the No. 2 seed, Cape Elizabeth, which looked far less invincible while holding off a No. 7 seed in its quarterfinal. That pesky No. 7 just happened to be Wells, which also carries the WMC banner, and the Warriors battled Cape into overtime without their best player, Alex Furness.

The Capers beat the unbeatable Rangers early in the season and boasted arguably the best player in the tournament, senior guard Theo Bowe. They are also the dark horse darlings to knock off Greely, in part because history has shown they can do it.

On down to the No. 3 seed, York, a rugged, balanced team that took down Cape twice this season and dispatched a gutty Leavitt team Saturday.  Perhaps one could make the case that the Hornets would have beaten the Wildcats rather than lose by five if they were 100 percent.  One could also argue that no matter how healthy the Hornets were, they didn’t have the size to handle York in the paint.

Then there’s the No. 4 seed Yarmouth, which theoretically had the toughest match-up with No. 5 Mountain Valley. But the Clippers held the distinction of beating all three seeds ahead of them, Greely, Cape and York, during the regular season, and they were just too big, too athletic and had in Josh Britten the type of slashing guard the MVC just didn’t produce this year.

“We don’t see that type of team up and down the lineup night in and night out,”White said. “But you still have teams in the MVC that are pretty competitive.”

Competitive, yes. I’ll put teams such as Dirigo, Boothbay and Livermore Falls up against anyone when it comes to competitiveness. Sometimes, they can even stack up pretty well in the talent department, too. 

But in 2011, the WMC is easily the class of Class B. And at next week’s semifinals, it will be throwing an exclusive party in the Cumberland County Civic Center to celebrate.

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