AUGUSTA — Mt. Blue endured the same start to Wednesday’s Eastern Class A boys’ basketball semifinal that plagued its quarterfinal game.

Nothing falling, complicated by an opponent willing to wait a minute, maybe two, and pass up a good shot to get a better one.

That was Lawrence, so a comeback was realistic. This was Bangor, which would have required a minor miracle.

The No. 1 Rams advanced to their first regional championship contest since 2008, landing the early lead and nursing it a 41-34 conclusion at the No. 4 Cougars’ expense.

Bangor (19-1) will face Edward Little (19-1) at 8:45 p.m. Friday for the title at Augusta Civic Center.

“We didn’t give up. We made a lot of runs at them, but it just wasn’t quite enough to get the job done,” Mt. Blue coach Jim Bessey said. “I’m proud of the way our kids showed up. (Bangor) intimidated us in the past. Those days are gone.”

Mt. Blue (15-5) scored only six points in the first half of its first-round win over Lawrence.

Double digits almost eluded the Cougars against Bangor, too.

Dom Clements dropped in the only field goal of the first quarter. Nobody but quarterfinal heroes Eric Berry and Cam Sennick scored in the second period.

The Cougars trailed 13-5 after one quarter and 19-11 at the half.

“Our energy was high,” Bangor senior Tristan Thomas said. “We have a bunch of seniors with tournament experience who play well together.”

Thomas drained a pair of 3-pointers and scored all eight of his points in the first half.

Zach Blodgett scored his five points prior to intermission, also.

While his offense cooled in the second half, the defense didn’t. Blodgett was a shot-blocking and pass-deflecting presence from start to finish.

“The type of defense we play, we play really hard,” Bangor coach Roger Reed said. “We got into a little foul trouble, and at that point you have to be a little more careful about what you’re doing.”

Still, Mt. Blue struggled to fire up its preferred running game and string together multiple, unanswered baskets until it was too late.

Bangor added a point to its cushion, 30-21, after three quarters, and still led by nine, 38-29, on Jacques Larochelle’s two free throws with 1:30 to go.

Berry triggered Mt. Blue’s modest final flurry, scoring first with the help of a goaltending call. His steal and layup subsequently sliced the deficit to five with 44 seconds to go.

It remained a two-possession game after Luke Hettermann hit only one of two free throws. Berry’s narrow miss on the Cougars’ next trip fell into the hands of Bangor’s Josiah Hartley.

Patrick Stewart then scored to ice the issue for the Rams. Stewart, a 6-foot-6 junior, notched eight of his team-high 14 points in the fourth.

“We held up pretty well,” Hettermann said. “Coach always tells us at tournament time that teams are going to make a run at you. I think we did a pretty good job holding them off.”

Hettermann scored five of his eight points in the third quarter to keep Mt. Blue at arm’s length.

Berry poured in nine of his 13 in the fourth. Sennick and Blake Hart each added seven points.

“We didn’t get to execute the way we like to do with the way they play, being as patient offensively as they are,” Bessey said. “But we hung around and hung around and hung around.”

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