Massabesic boys’ basketball Coach Chris Binette summoned his team to the bench when it was trailing by 15 points Tuesday night and delivered an odd message.

“He called a timeout just to tell us we were going to win. Like cool down, yo, because you’re making stupidhead mistakes,” Mustangs guard Ryan Gullikson said. “The guy isn’t wrong, ever, so anything he says, it’s true.”

Gullikson helped fulfill his coach’s seemingly impossible prophesy. He scored a career-high 28 points and nailed two free throws with 20.6 seconds remaining that gave Massabesic a 49-48 victory over Gorham in a Class AA South boys’ basketball semifinal at the Cross Insurance Arena.

It was the only lead for third-seeded Massabesic (16-4).

“A boy will miss those shots,” Gullikson said he was telling himself. “Be a man.”

The win advanced the Mustangs to Friday’s 9 p.m. regional final at the Cross Insurance Arena against fourth-seeded South Portland (11-9), which upset No. 1 Thornton Academy, 39-36.

For Massabesic, which won a total of just eight games in its previous five seasons, it’s been an amazing odyssey. And the Mustangs certainly made it difficult on themselves against second-seeded Gorham (14-5).

The Rams raced to a 14-4 lead and scored the first eight points of the second half to grab the 37-22 advantage that prompted Binette’s timeout pep talk.

But Gorham post players Sam Kilborn and Billy Ruby got into foul trouble and the tide started shifting.

Led by Gullikson, who also had a game-high nine rebounds, Massabesic went on a 13-0 run and pulled within two points three times in the fourth quarter before finally breaking through.

Gorham had a chance with the ball under its basket and 13.2 seconds remaining. Ruby had fouled out, and guard Jackson Fotter had a layup roll off the rim, got his own rebound, and had a final shot blocked by Dawson Renaud as time expired.

“We were looking to get the ball inside. It broke down a little,” Gorham Coach Mark Karter said. “I thought Jackson got a good look; it just didn’t go down.”

Sam Kilborn scored 12 of his 13 points in the first half to lead Gorham. Fotter finished with 12 and Stephen Burns added 11.

Binette said his team struggled for 29 minutes while he kept reassuring them all was not lost.

“I just don’t want them to ever feel like they can’t win. I just felt like the balloon had to pop at some point. At some point we had to start playing the way we were going to play,” Binette said. “And we had a three-minute spurt where we just played like we can and brought it all the way back. And once that wave starts going, our kids just had so much confidence.”

Especially Gullikson.

“I’m a confident person,” he said. “I feel we’re the best. So if you feel you’re the best, you have to show you’re the best. And to show you’re the best you have to win the next (two).”

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