BIDDEFORD — For the second straight year, the Biddeford High boys’ basketball team improved its win total by seven.

But after Thursday’s convincing 63-40 win against a solid Westbrook team, the Tigers (15-3) are convinced there are more wins – playoff wins – in their future.

“Just getting started. It’s a whole new ballgame now that we’re in playoffs,” said senior guard Kyle Norton, who led all scorers with 16 points.

Biddeford will be seeded second in the Class A South regional and will face No. 7 Brunswick (12-6) in a quarterfinal at the Portland Expo on Feb. 17 at 8:30 p.m.

“It was a really fun regular season but at this point now, these guys are going to have to prove next Saturday night that they are mentally tough,” said Biddeford Coach Justin Tardif. “They’re going to have to prove that they can share the ball on offense again. They’re going to have to prove that they can run some press and put some pressure. It’s a new challenge for our program to be in that situation.”

Westbrook (12-6) will also be playing its quarterfinal game next Saturday, trying to beat No. 6 Kennebunk for a third time this season. If Biddeford and Westbrook both win, they will meet in a regional semifinal. Westbrook won the first meeting of the season in a low-scoring grinder.

“If we were to see them again it would be at the (Cross Insurance Arena) but that’s so far out of my mind right now,” said Westbrook Coach Dan LeGage. “We’re just focused on our quarterfinal game.”

In Tardif’s first three seasons as the team’s coach, Biddeford was a combined 2-52. Then came last season’s 8-11 record, with a quarterfinal loss at the Expo.

“We kept our group together and we just kept progressing each year,” said guard Jerome Criado, one of seven seniors. “Coach Tardif saw a plan with us and he kept with it and we kept getting better each year and this is the result.”

Leading 14-9 after a solid first quarter, Biddeford took over in the second, hitting six 3-pointers – three by Norton and two by Criado (14 points).

Biddeford led 34-17 at the half and pushed the lead over 20 quickly in the third quarter where it stayed for most of the rest of the game.

Cody Saucier and DeSean Cromwell combined for 16 points and controlled the rebounding game. Heady junior point guard Carter Edgerton showed off his hesitation dribble drive and ability to find small spaces to get off his pull-up jumper, scoring 10 points. Defensive stopper Jackson Oloya slowed down Westbrook’s top scoring threat Zac Manoogian (12 points).

“They’re a perimeter team and when they shoot the ball really, really well like that they’re a tough team to beat,” LeGage said.

Biddeford made 10 of its 22 3-point shots. But it also showed it could work the ball inside, often with a clever pass to set up an easy layup.

Steve Craig can be reached at 791-6413 or at:

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