Mountain Valley’s Jacob Blanchard tries to drive around Wells defender Payton MacKay during Saturday’s Class B South quarterfinal at the Portland Expo. (Portland Press Herald photo by John Ewing)

 

PORTLAND — Wells won its second Class B South boys’ basketball title in a row last year as a No. 1 seed. The Warriors are back to try to continue their run, technically as an underdog eighth seed.

Wells looked like anything but underdogs in Saturday’s 62-52 win over this year’s No. 1, Mountain Valley, at the Portland Expo.

Tyler Bridge led all scorers with 19 points and eight rebounds but got plenty of support from Matt Sherburne (15 points, seven rebounds) and Caleb Corey (14 points) for Wells (10-10).

Jacob Blanchard led Mountain Valley (16-3) with 13 points, while Casey Cormier added 11 points.

Wells advances to face No. 4 Gray-New Gloucester in the regional semifinals at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday at Cross Insurance Arena.

Sherburne, one of three returning starters from last year’s team, said the Warriors feel no pressure as the No. 8 seed, but didn’t feel much as a No. 1 seed, either.

“We have nothing to lose, so we’re just going to throw everything at them,” Sherburne said. “It feels the same way (as being a No. 1 seed), just because everyone’s record is 0-0 once you get into the tournament.”

Wells jumped out to an 11-8 lead after one quarter then went on a 16-3 run to start the second quarter to put the Falcons back on their heels.

“It was really important, just to know that we could play with them,” Sherburne said. “They were the No. 1 seed, and we didn’t know them. We hadn’t played them before. We had no film on them. It was really (good to) know that we could play with them from the start.”

“It helped having my sophomore come off the bench and hit three straight 3s,” Wells coach Troy Brown said of Corey. “He’s a player, but you just don’t know with a sophomore. He came of age today, and I think that gave the rest of our guys (gained) confidence seeing him knock down some shots.”

Corey’s second 3-pointer answered one by Mountain Valley’s Keegan Davis (eight points) to put the Warriors’ lead into double digits for the first time at 22-11. A Payton MacKay layup preceded Corey’s third trey of the half for a 27-11 lead. The Warriors added one more point to their lead before going into halftime up 33-16.

Wells did not have a single turnover in the first half.

“Wells is a battle-tested team,” Mountain Valley coach Scot New said. “They play some tough teams every single night, and just because they’re 9-10 doesn’t mean that they’re not ready to play,” New said.

The Falcons turned up the pressure in the second half but made little progress on the deficit until the fourth quarter.

A 3-pointer by Cormier, followed by his traditional three-point play on a baseline drive and a putback by Cooper Davis pulled them within 49-41 with 4:05 to go. But Wells got back-to-back hoops inside from MacKay and Bridge on a putback, then rode Sherburne’s free-throw shooting down the stretch to spoil any Mountain Valley comeback hopes.

“Matt Sherburne has ice in his veins,” Brown said. “He made some great decisions with the basketball today.”

“We haven’t really been that disciplined all year,” Brown added. “I thought this was our best-disciplined basketball game, where we listened to what we wanted to accomplish coming out and were patient on offense in the second half when things were starting to get a little dicey.”

 

Wells defender Dylan Whitney pressures Mountain Valley’s Tayler Pelletier during Saturday’s Class B South quarterfinal at the Portland Expo. (Portland Press Herald photo by John Ewing) Portland Press Herald photo by J

Mountain Valley’s Jacob Blanchard drives to the basket for a layup against Wells defenders Gavyn Leighton, left, and Tyler Bridge during Saturday’s Class B South quarterfinal at the Portland Expo. (Portland Press Herald photo by John Ewing)

Wells’ Tyler Bridge, center, and Matt Ouellette (15) control a rebound in front of Mountain Valley’s Cooper Davis during Saturday’s Class B South quarterfinal at the Portland Expo. (Portland Press Herald photo by John Ewing)