AUGUSTA — It was a classic size-versus-speed matchup in the Class D boys’ basketball semifinals Wednesday morning at the Augusta Civic Center.

In the end, A.R. Gould’s size was too much for Valley’s speed. The third-seeded Bears gained the lead in the fourth quarter and held on for a 56-51 win against a Valley squad that featured the 3-point shooting of diminutive guard Joey Thomas and the slashing drives of Josh Brown.

A.R. Gould (16-4) will play top-seeded Greenville on Saturday in a rematch of last year’s regional final. Second-seeded Valley finishes its season at 14-6.

With 6-foot-5 Alex Shoureas and 6-3 Ernest Lorange prowling the paint, A.R. Gould held a decided size advantage.

“That’s all we practiced, was to get into rebounding position and take the shots that we saw coming off the rim,” A.R. Gould Coach Chad Sturgis said.

Lorange scored six of his 12 points in the final four minutes of the game, including a pair of free throws with 21 seconds left to give his team 55-51 lead. Brown, who finished with 20 points, had cut the lead to 53-51 with a 3-pointer from the top of the key and a putback, but then picked up his fifth foul defending Lorange.

Lorange added nine rebounds, while Shoureas scored 14 points and grabbed 10 rebounds.

A.R. Gould went ahead 7-0, then Valley responded with 13 straight points, highlighted by three 3-pointers from Thomas. He added a fourth later in the quarter to help the Cavaliers open a 21-12 lead.

The Bears face-guarded Thomas, then went to a zone but couldn’t slow down the 5-3 junior. He connected on three straight 3s in the third quarter, the last giving Valley a 39-37 lead.

Sturgis called a timeout and went to a box-and-one defense that proved effective.

“We tried to shade help to him the entire time,” Sturgis said. “But he’s so fast, he got open in the corners and stuck a lot of long 3s, so we went box-and-one on him.”

Thomas finished with 21 points on seven 3-pointers, one shy of the Class D tournament record. He also tied the record with 12 for the entire tournament – in just two games.

“He plays through it,” Miller said of the defensive attention Thomas received. “He gets used to it. He sees it all the time. You hit five 3s, you’re going to start seeing a little pressure on you.”

Although the teams didn’t play in the regular season, they also met in last year’s semifinals.

“It’s very different,” Sturgis said. “Our players last year were extremely athletic, extremely fast. This year, we have a true center, two good ball-handlers and two really good spot-up shooters.”

Sophomore Tristin Chamberlain connected on three 3s and finished with 11 points for A.R. Gould, and senior Kyle Hurd hit a pair of 3-pointers.

GREENVILLE 53, SEACOAST CHRISTIAN 26: The top-seeded Lakers (18-2) used a 36-13 second-half advantage to pull away from the Guardians (12-8) in a Class D South semifinal at the Augusta Civic Center.

Nick Foley led Greenville with 13 points, converting all eight of his free-throw attempts. Connor DiAngelo and Devin Boone each added 11 points.

Jet Archer scored seven points for Seacoast Christian.


GREELY 1, ST. DOMINIC 1: Mack Pelletier scored a power-play goal with 2:24 remaining in regulation as St. Dom’s (8-8-2) earned a tie against Greely (15-2-1) in Auburn.

Jackson Williams scored 21 seconds into the second period to put Greely ahead.