AUGUSTA — A.R. Gould senior Tyrese Collins has emerged as one of the more dynamic players in this year’s Class D South tournament.

The 5-foot-5 guard has been scoring seemingly at will, inside and out. Wednesday morning, Collins scored 15 of his game-high 27 points in the third quarter as the second-seeded Bears pulled away from No. 5 Valley en route to a 76-61 semifinal victory.

The win puts Gould (17-3) into the regional final Saturday against top-seeded Greenville at the Augusta Civic Center.

Collins led the South Portland school, housed in the Long Creek Youth Development Center, with 36 points in a quarterfinal win over Temple Academy.

“It all begins with confidence and my teammates,” Collins said. “I give it to my teammates and I get open.”

Collins has had plenty of help. Senior center Gage Barton scored 23 points and grabbed a team-high 13 rebounds while Issak Aliyow added 15 points. Valley (12-8) stayed close behind seniors Austin Cates (17 points, eight rebounds) and Nathan Ames (11 points) and sharp-shooting sophomore Joey Thomas (14).

“They’re really quick,” Valley coach Curtis Miller said. “They get out on the fastbreak and push the ball. I thought we did a pretty good job getting back, but they stepped out. They beat us in the half-court, too, dribble-drives and kicking it.”

The Cavaliers never led. They closed within seven (40-33) on a 3-pointer at the halftime buzzer from Ames. They tied the game at 44 when Cates scored eight quick points early in the second half and Brandon Thomas completed a three-point play. But then Collins went to work. He connected on a foul-line jumper, hit a free throw, a 3 from the top of the circle, a jump shot in the lane and a 3 from the left side to make it 55-46.

“Speed and confidence, it’s as simple as that,” Gould coach Chad Sturgis said of Collins. “He’s extremely fast and he’s extremely confident in what he does well, and he tries to avoid anything he does poorly.”

The Cavs trailed 61-51 entering the fourth quarter and cut the lead to 63-55 on a 3 from Keegan Farnham and a free throw by Cates. Collins answered with a nifty behind the back assist — one of five for the game — to Aliyow off the break and Barton added a layup to restore the lead to 10 points.

The regional final is the furthest the Bears have advanced in school history. They have a rematch against a Greenville team that blew them out by 40 points in last a quarterfinal game last season.

“I think we have a good shot,” Collins said. “We can do anything we put our minds to.”

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