RUMFORD — Junior Luke Lueders stepped up to the challenge and proved to be a force down the stretch for the Dirigo boys’ basketball team in its regular-season finale Wednesday.

Lueders directed the offense and scored a game high 21 points, including six straight free throws in the fourth quarter, as the Cougars maintained their composure in a 64-51 triumph against Mountain Valley at packed Puiia Gymnasium.

Class B South Mountain Valley (7-11) won a 78-67 double-overtime thriller over Dirigo last month in Dixfield. It doesn’t matter what the records are when Dirigo and Mountain play, it’s always going to be a battle.

With the win, Dirigo (5-13), ranked 12th in Class C South, will travel to play in a preliminary game. Despite having more wins, Mountain Valley fell shy of a playoff berth in Class B South.

Each team planned an up-tempo game and proceeded to battle to the bitter Wednesday.

“This is the best feeling ,” Lueders said. “We beat Mountain Valley and we are heading in to the playoffs.”

Dirigo had taken a double-digit lead, but the Falcons had closed within 35-26 early in the third quarter. The Cougars promptly responded with a 10-0 run engineered by Alex Gorham (10 points), who started it with a traditional three-point play. Cooper Chiasson (16 points), Jeremy St German (10 points) and Chase Clark (nine points) each scored baskets.

The Cougars’ defense prevented the Falcons from getting in rhythm.

Dirigo made 8 of 12 shots in third quarter.

“The assistant coaches got through to the players and they picked it up,” Dirigo coach Travis Magnusson said. “I’m proud of these guys. We have lost some close games. We had goals tonight, take offensive charges and get to free-throw line.”

Zach Duguay and Keegan Davis led Mountain Valley with 12 points. Taylor Pelletier had 10.

“We needed to play defense down the stretch, and didn’t. Kudos to Luke (Lueders), he ran and executed the Dirigo offense,” Mountain Valley coach Tom Danylik said.

Mountain Valley made 3 of 4 free throws, while Dirigo was 16 of 23 from the charity stripe, including 12 of 16 in fourth quarter.

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