— By

Staff Writer

AUGUSTA — If there is one thing the Dirigo boys’ basketball team knows a lot about, it’s playing in a tournament basketball game at the Augusta Civic Center.

That’s one reason the Cougars kept their cool as Old Orchard Beach nearly matched them basket for basket until the final minutes of their Western Class C semifinal Thursday night.

”You’ve got to keep your composure. You’ve got to keep your focus,” said Dirigo guard Tyler Chiasson after the second-seeded Cougars eked out a 47-41 victory against the third-ranked Seagulls to earn their fourth consecutive trip to the regional final.

Dirigo (17-3), which will play top-ranked Livermore Falls (17-3) for the regional title Saturday night, concentrated on keeping the ball from John Regis and Brandon Ouellette, who provide a strong inside game for Old Orchard.

”We knew they were going to go to their big guys, so we tried to sag inside and not let them catch the ball,” said Chiasson, who scored 18 points. ”If they caught the ball up top, we were all set. We just played hard-core man-to-man (defense).”

The Cougars had to work extremely hard at both ends of the court to get past the Seagulls (17-3), who made their first trip to Augusta in six years.

”It was the toughest game we had all year, including football,” said Nic Crutchfield, who led Dirigo to the Class C championship as the quarterback last fall. ”They had size and we didn’t. They threw over the top and it was hard to defend that.”

Dirigo took the lead for good when Crutchfield, who had 11 of his 13 points in the second half, sank a 3-pointer a little more than a minute into the fourth quarter to snap a 33-33 tie.

”It was an outstanding effort,” Old Orchard Coach John Regan said. ”I’m extremely proud of my players. We played the defending regional champions to a standstill.”

The Seagulls, who were led by Regis’ 12 points, held a 22-21 halftime lead and were within 33-31 after three quarters.

”I was very happy with what the halftime score was and the score going into the fourth quarter,” Regan said. ”But we just couldn’t get it done when we needed to.”

Dirigo sank 5 of 9 free throws in the final 1:10 to put it away.

Staff Writer Paul Betit can be contacted at 791-6424 or at:

[email protected]

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