AUGUSTA — The Valley boys basketball team enjoyed a pair of game-changing runs in its Western D quarterfinal game Saturday morning against North Yarmouth Academy.
The first one gave the Cavaliers a 10-0 lead to put the Panthers on their heels right from the opening tip. The second one — a 16-4 spurt to end the third quarter — all but propelled Valley to the regional semifinals.
Collin Miller scored a game-high 23 points, including 17 in the second half, and Jordan Gillespie added 15 as No. 4 Valley rolled past No. 5 NYA 70-47.
“We wanted to run and wear them down,” Gillespie said. “It feels pretty good. We wanted to take it to them. Our shots were just falling today.”
Added Miller: “We were just in the zone. It was a good start.”
Cody Laweryson scored 12 points and Dylan Belanger chipped in with seven for Valley (15-4), which will play top-seeded Forest Hills (17-2) in the regional semifinals Wednesday.
Chase Gendron scored 18 points to pace the Panthers (13-6).
Valley held a big advantage on the boards as well. It out-rebounded the Panthers 36-18. Dylan Belanger had a team-high 10 rebounds while Miller had eight.
“We had some nerves,” said NYA coach Jason Knight, whose team had 18 turnovers in the first half alone and 30 for the game. “Experience was a factor, too. Valley had that checked off. They had a few nice runs that really helped them.”
The first came after the opening tip, when the Cavaliers raced out to a 10-0 lead before NYA made its first field goal, which came with 2 minutes, 45 left in the quarter.
“We always stress that coming out of the gate is so important,” Valley coach Luke Hartwell said. “We just had to get in that mindset.”
NYA scrapped and clawed its way back into the game, thanks to the strong play of El Tayeb Dahlia.
The senior guard scored seven of his 11 points in the first three minutes of the second quarter as the Panthers pulled to within 17-14.
“We were hanging around,” Knight said.
But not for long.
Valley pulled away for good with a 16-4 run to close the third quarter, with Miller doing most of the damage. He scored nine points in the quarter.
“It really helped us out,” Miller said of the run. “We needed it.”
Valley scored four baskets in transition off turnovers during the run. Belanger converted a 3-point play and Gillespie hit two pull-up jumpers from about 12 feet out as well.
“Gillespie was just under control all game,” Hartwell said. “He played with great poise and had an excellent game. You don’t want to let good teams hang around.”
Added Miller: “Coach has conditioned us well and it really helped us out a lot today. We just wore them out.”