AUGUSTA — A.R. Gould senior Tyrese Collins has emerged as one of the most dynamic players in this year’s Class D South boys’ basketball tournament.

The 5-foot-5 guard has been scoring seemingly at will, inside and out. Wednesday morning, Collins scored 15 of his 27 points in the third quarter as the second-seeded Bears pulled away from No. 5 Valley en route to a 76-61 semifinal victory at the Augusta Civic Center.

The win sends A.R. Gould (17-3) to the regional final Saturday against top-seeded Greenville.

Collins led the South Portland school, housed in the Long Creek Youth Development Center, with 36 points in a quarterfinal win over Temple Academy.

“It all begins with confidence and my teammates,” Collins said. “I give it to my teammates and I get open.”

Collins has had plenty of help. Senior center Gage Barton scored 23 points and grabbed 13 rebounds, and Issak Aliyow added 15 points.

Valley (12-8) stayed close behind seniors Austin Cates (17 points, eight rebounds) and Nathan Ames (11 points), and sharp-shooting sophomore Joey Thomas (14).

“They’re really quick,” Valley Coach Curtis Miller said of A.R. Gould. “They get out on the fast break and push the ball. I thought we did a pretty good job getting back but they stepped out. They beat us in the half-court, too, dribble-drives and kicking it.”

The Cavaliers never led. They closed within 40-33 on an Ames 3-pointer at the halftime buzzer, and tied the game at 44 when Cates scored eight points early in the second half and Brandon Thomas completed a three-point play.

But then Collins went to work. He connected on a foul-line jumper, a free throw, a 3-pointer from the top of the circle, a jump shot in the lane and a 3 from the left side to make it 55-46.

“Speed and confidence, it’s as simple as that,” A.R. Gould Coach Chad Sturgis said of Collins. “He’s extremely fast and he’s extremely confident in what he does well, and he tries to avoid anything he does poorly.”

Valley trailed 61-51 entering the fourth quarter and cut the lead to 63-55 on a 3 from Keegan Farnham and a free throw by Cates. Collins answered with a nifty behind-the- back assist – one of his five in the game – to Aliyow on a fast break.

The regional final is the farthest the Bears have ever advanced. Next up is a rematch against a Greenville team that blew them out by 40 points in the quarterfinals last season.

“I think we have a good shot,” Collins said. “We can do anything we put our minds to.”

GREENVILLE 55, SEACOAST CHRISTIAN 35: Conner DiAngelo scored 15 points to lead the Lakers (19-1) into the regional final.

Sky Archer and Caleb La Croix each had 14 points for fifth-seeded Seacoast Christian (12-8).

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