AUGUSTA — When the Greenville boys’ basketball team jumped out to a 14-2 lead over A.R. Gould in the first quarter of the Class D South championship game Saturday, it looked like the top-ranked Lakers would have no trouble defending their regional title.

It turned out to be far from easy, as third-seeded A.R. Gould fought back to take the lead in the third quarter. Greenville controlled the final eight minutes, however, outscoring the Bears 16-3 en route to a 43-28 victory.

Greenville (19-2) will play Woodland in the state championship game Saturday at the Augusta Civic Center. Evan Bjork and Connor DiAngelo led the Lakers with 12 points apiece. Bjork, who was celebrating his 18th birthday, made four 3-pointers.

The Lakers cooled off after their strong start, scoring only three points in the second quarter as A.R. Gould cut its deficit to 17-13.

“The second quarter, we came out and we just could not hit a shot,” Bjork said. “We needed to come out with some fire and relax. And that’s what we did.”

The game was a rematch of the 2017 regional final, but this one was much more competitive. Greenville won 69-33 last year.

“They’ve been able to handle adversity,” A.R. Gould Coach Chad Sturgis said of his team. “They trust each other when they’re down 10, when they’re down 15, and they come back to the bench and say, ‘We’re going to get back in it.'”

Ernest Lorange led the Bears (16-5) with nine points, while Malakai Brimage and Alex Shoureas each contributed eight. Lorange and Shoureas limited the Lakers’ second-chance opportunities, but Greenville was effective from outside, hitting eight 3-pointers.

“Alex and Ernie have been rebounding for us all year – they’ve been really good on the boards,” Sturgis said. “A couple shots didn’t go our way, and they hit some big ones in the corner.”

The Lakers opened the game with a 9-0 run, with DiAngelo accounting for six points.

Brimage drove into the paint and pulled up for a jumper to put the Bears on the board, but a basket by Devin Boone and a 3-pointer by Nick Foley made it 14-2.

Brimage hit a 3 for the Bears before the end of the quarter, however, and Shoureas opened the second quarter with a three-point play. Meanwhile, Greenville’s only basket of the quarter was a 3-pointer by Foley.

“It wasn’t because we weren’t getting good looks – we just weren’t putting them in,” Greenville Coach William Foley said. “We’re kind of streaky. They need to see a basket go in, and then it’s kind of contagious.”

During Greenville’s scoring drought, the Bears chipped away at the lead, as Shoureas converted another three-point play and Lorange hit two free throws.

A.R. Gould ran off seven straight points in the third quarter, capped by a Kyle Hurd 3-pointer that put the Bears ahead for the first time, 20-19. Their last lead was 25-22 after a three-point play by Brimage. A 3-pointer by Bjork started an 8-0 run for Greenville.

“We’ve been here before and we’re comfortable on this court,” DiAngelo said. “We just knew we had to channel our confidence and play like the team that we are.”

Taylor Vortherms can be contacted at 791-6417 or at:

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