PORTLAND — Indiana Faithfull can beat a team with his defense, playmaking and scoring.
This time Faithfull decided to score, helping Cheverus take control in the third quarter on the way to a 56-46 victory against Westbrook in the Western Class A boys’ basketball final Saturday night at the Cumberland County Civic Center.
Faithfull, named the Vinall Trophy winner as the tournament’s top player, finished with 22 points, including nine in the third quarter as the top-ranked Stags (20-1) took control with a 21-14 edge.
Alex Furness added 18 points for the Stags.
It was the second regional title in three seasons for the Stags, who will play Edward Little for the state title at 7 p.m. Saturday at the Civic Center.
“We wanted to take it hard to the basket,” said Faithfull. “We had settled for too many outside shots in the first half.”
Cheverus saved its best tourney performance for the final.
“We played great defense in our first two wins in the tournament, but not-so-great offense,” said Coach Bob Brown. “Tonight we played great defense and great offense.”
Cheverus turned the game around not only with aggressiveness on offense, but with a press that bothered second-seeded Westbrook (19-2).
“We couldn’t press in the first half because we didn’t have the legs,” said Brown. “So we went with it in the second half.”
The Blazes, who had won 18 in a row since a two-point loss to Cheverus early in the season, looked strong in the first half and early in the third quarter, but the game quickly changed.
The Blazes had a 27-21 lead when Faithfull lost the ball on a drive. It was the last thing he did wrong, or so it seemed.
Cheverus’ run started with two foul shots by Louie DiStasio. Furness scored on a drive. Faithfull and Peter Gwilym followed with baskets, as Cheverus’ press caused problems for the usually sure ball-handling Blazes.
“We knew we needed to control our turnovers and we just didn’t do it,” said Westbrook Coach Mark Karter. “I think when Jose (Nouchanthavong) went out with three fouls, our problems happened.
“We had a lot of shots that normally drop, didn’t. As well as we played in the semifinals against South Portland, we played as poorly against Cheverus. It’s disappointing because these kids are a great bunch who have played together since the sixth grade.”
The Stags’ surge gave them a 35-27 lead. Dominic Borelli converted a three-point play for the Blazes to make it 35-30, but Westbrook never got closer than five points the rest of the game.
Cheverus hit 12 of 17 from the line in the fourth quarter, including six by Gwilym.
Andrew Beckwith scored 14 points for Westbrook, which was seeking its first regional title since 2000.
With Westbrook trying to make a dent into Cheverus’ lead, Furness hit a big 3-pointer from the corner to put his team up by eight.
“We got a lot more ball movement in the second half,” said Furness. “We knew we had to be more aggressive in the second half.”
Staff Writer Tom Chard can be contacted at 791-6419 or at: