AUGUSTA — Will Stuart and his Traip Academy teammates know they are small.

“That’s been our situation the whole year. Kids see us, they see our tallest guy is 6-1 and they count us out, but if that’s how it really went we wouldn’t be where we are now,” Stuart said.

Which is in the Class C South semifinal, after fifth-seeded Traip rallied twice from significant deficits to beat fourth-ranked Boothbay 70-60 in a regional quarterfinal Monday night at the Augusta Civic Center.

Stuart scored 14 of his team-high 27 points in the fourth quarter, and a tenacious team defense forced 22 turnovers.

“We were just playing determined. Heart over height,” said Jordan Polanco, who added 13 points.

Traip (15-5) will face top-ranked Winthrop (18-1) in an 8:30 p.m. semifinal Thursday at Augusta.

All seven Rangers who played scored at least five points. Reserves Kevin McKenney and Frankie Driscoll outscored the Boothbay bench, 11-0. Traip’s 6-foot-1 center Isaac Henderson (8 points) and 5-11 forward Will Davis (5 points) matched the output of the Seahawks’ 6-6 Ben Pearce and 6-4 Nick Morley.

“It’s the same thing all year. We’ve been small against every team we play,” said Traip Coach Ed Szczepanik. “I say it every day. We have to be five guys playing as one.”

Steve Reny scored 30 points to lead Boothbay (14-5) but when he went cold in the fourth quarter, the Seahawks couldn’t find a secondary option.

“We didn’t take advantage of our size,” said Boothbay Coach I.J. Pinkham. “They were afraid to pass it in. Part of our game plan was to use our size advantage.”

Boothbay started the game on a 13-3 run as Traip repeatedly turned the ball over.

The Rangers produced a 19-point swing for a 37-28 halftime lead. McKenney came in and made both his shots. Polanco hit two 3-pointers. Davis and Henderson, working the high-to-low posts, picked apart Boothbay’s 2-3 zone for shots right under the baskt.

Then, in the third quarter, Boothbay went on a 13-0 run and led 49-45 entering the fourth.

Just 1:37 later, Traip was back in front by four as Stuart and Driscoll each scored four points.

When Stuart bounced in a 3-pointer, then stole the ball and swooped in for a layup, Traip led 64-57 with 2:05 left.

“My shots weren’t falling but both of my coaches just kept saying, ‘keep shooting, the shots will fall.’ That’s what I did and eventually in the fourth quarter I started to hit and the whole team started to get on a roll,” Stuart said.

UPDATE: This story was corrected at 10:35 a.m. on Feb. 19 to include Frankie Driscoll as one of the Traip Academy reserves who outscored the Boothbay bench.


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