AUGUSTA – The past two seasons, Waynflete fell behind early in the Western Class C boys’ basketball semifinals and couldn’t recover.
Thursday night, the Flyers showed they’ve matured.
After a poor first quarter, second-seeded Waynflete (17-1) settled itself, shot 12 of 17 in the second half and did what no team has done in the regional tourney since 2008: beat Dirigo. The Flyers ended Dirigo’s four-year reign with a 58-51 win at the Augusta Civic Center.
“We respect these guys, and they came out and put us on our heels,” said Waynflete Coach Rich Henry. “They were beating us to every loose ball. They were stripping the ball from us and we didn’t react very well. After a while we settled down and that was the key.”
Dirigo’s period of control corresponded to Serge Nyirikamba of Waynflete sitting with two early fouls. Nyirikamba ended with 17 points, including the team’s last basket with 1:32 left for a 52-50 lead. Harry Baker-Connick (12 points) made 3 of 4 free throws, and the defense clamped down over the final 1:30.
“He got into foul trouble and was still able to play because he’s a cerebral kid,” Henry said. “He’s a great player. He’s not that good of an assistant coach, so I don’t like having him sit next to me.”
Dirigo led 27-23 at the half, and Robbie Babb (13 points) scored early in the third on a rebound.
Baker-Connick got the rally started with a hanging layup in traffic, and Nyirikamba quickly followed with a fast-break bucket. Baker-Connick cut the margin to 31-30 with a 3-pointer.
Waynflete took its first lead at 38-36 with 3:10 left in the third quarter on a 3-pointer by Mohammed Suja, who scored 27 points in the quarterfinals.
Travis Frost (15 points) answered to tie the game. Baker-Connick scored nine points in the third quarter, which ended with the teams tied, 42-42.
In the fourth, Waynflete slowed the tempo and worked good interior passes for two buckets by Nyirikamba and one by Paul Runyambo (eight points) to take a 48-44 lead.
“They almost took the game. The first quarter was awful, but we stayed to our game plan and stayed in the game mentally,” Nyirikamba said. “Once we got the lead, we executed.”
Waynflete will be in a regional championship game for the first time since 1983, when it was in Class D.
Staff Writer Steve Craig can be reached at 791-6413 or at: