The Tigers hit their first three shots, all 3-pointers, and kept scoring, taking an 18-0 lead.

But while Biddeford began on fire, the Westbrook Blue Blazes plotted their comeback.

The keys were to tighten the defense and settle down.

“They didn’t let the score bug them. They just stuck to what we asked them to do,” Westbrook Coach Dan LeGage said. “They dug in and they fought.”

And they won.

Cody Saucier of Biddeford is called for a charge as he drives baseline on Landon Sjoberg of Westbrook in the second half.

Westbrook methodically closed the gap, sent the game into overtime and then took over in a 52-44 win Wednesday night in a Class A South semifinal at Cross Insurance Arena.

Westbrook guard Zac Manoogian fueled the rally with 32 points – 15 in the fourth quarter and seven in overtime. He hit 17 of 18 free throws.

Biddeford was led by Cody Saucier (12 points) and Kyle Norton (11).

No. 3 Westbrook (14-6) advanced to face No. 1 Greely in the South final at 8 p.m. Saturday.

No. 2 Biddeford is finished at 16-4.

Westbrook closed to 23-15 at halftime, and 33-29 after the third quarter. The Blue Blazes took a one-point lead briefly in the fourth, but Biddeford rallied. The Tigers led 44-40 with 1:06 left. But Biddeford missed four free throws, and Manoogian tied it with a jump shot and, with 20 seconds left, two free throws.

Westbrook Coach Dan Legage celebrates with Zac Manoogian after defeating Biddeford.

Westbrook made 22 of 28 free throws, and Biddeford 14 of 24.

“The game was decided at the foul line,” Biddeford Coach Justin Tardif said. “We missed a few at the end, and they made theirs.”

The game also depended on the Blue Blazes’ not panicking.

“I don’t know how they’re making every shot and we’re missing every shot,” said Manoogian, a senior guard. “It was killing me inside … I knew if we battled back we could at least make it a game.”

Westbrook tried a zone defense at the start but switched back to its natural man-to-man. The two teams played even the last three minutes of the first quarter – with Jeremiah Alado’s layup with 14 seconds left giving Westbrook its first points.

The Blue Blazes scored the first seven points of the second quarter, on two layups by Abier Manyiel and a Manoogian 3-pointer, closing to 18-9.

Westbrook began driving more, scoring in the paint or from the foul line.

Zac Manoogian of Westbrook shoots over Kyle Norton of Biddeford.

“We attacked the rim, kept up the offensive pressure,” LeGage said. “Eventually, we turned the tide.”

With 5:30 left in the game, Manoogian’s jumper gave Westbrook a 37-36 lead.

“We knew it was going to be a 32-minute game,” Tardif said. “We were talking about that when we were up. Westbrook is really tough and they’re going to continue to fight, and that’s what happened.”

Biddeford retook the lead, 42-37. But then Manoogian was fouled trying a 3-pointer. He hit all three shots, closing to 42-40 with 1:26 left.

Biddeford’s Carter Edgerton hit two free throws. Westbrook missed its next shot. Biddeford rebounded, was fouled, and missed two free throws.

Manoogian drove down and drained a jump shot.

With 40 seconds left, Biddeford missed two more free throws. Westbrook’s Kyle Champagne rebounded. Manoogian tied it with two free throws. Biddeford worked for the last shot and missed a contested inside jumper.

In overtime, Biddeford missed four shots on its first three possessions. Meanwhile, Manoogian was drawing fouls and making 7 of 8 free throws, for a 51-44 lead with 1:29 left.

“The credit goes to these kids,” LeGage said. “They showed heart and desire like I’ve never seen before.”

Kevin Thomas can be reached at 791-6411 or:

[email protected]

Twitter: @KevinThomasPPH

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