AUGUSTA — The Forest Hills boys basketball team played the game the way it has played all season.

Scrappy.

It was that scrappy play that helped it fight back from an 11-point deficit to tie Seacoast Christian with three minutes remaining in a Class D South quarterfinal showdown Saturday at the Augusta Civic Center.

Unfortunately for the Tigers, foul trouble and an 8-0 run during those final three minutes gave the Guardians a 78-67 victory. No. 5 Seacoast (12-7) next gets No. 1 Greenville in the semifinals Wednesday. Forest Hills finished 13-6.

“I was proud of our kids,” Forest Hills coach Anthony Amero said. “We were a little limited off the bench. Conditioning-wise, we can go after them all day. We’re small, we’re quick. Basically just five guys scrapping, scrapping, down 12 or 14 (points), and then tied it. It speaks to the character of the kids. It also kind of summed up our season, just a hair short and just a little more frustration to add to the earlier frustration (of the game).”

The Tigers were led by forward Hunter Cuddy, who nailed five 3-pointers — all in the second half — to finish with 23 points. Teammate Brandon Gilboe added 19 points, while Jakob Rivas chipped in with 15 points.

The Guardians were led by forward Marlon Bernardo, who finished with 20 points. Jesse Towne added 19.

KEYS TO THE GAME: Size was an issue throughout the game for the Tigers, especially battling the boards for rebounds. Of Forest Hills’ starters, only two were 5-foot-10 or taller (Gilboe and Cuddy). They had to fight all game with Seacoast forwards Jet Archer (6-4) and Ian Condon (6-5).

“It’s kind of been the story of the tournament,” Amero said. “It’s funny, you look at some of these schools and people are picking up these 6-5 kids. Nobody moves to Jackman who’s 6-5. I’ve got to move south, I guess. With nobody over 6 feet, it’s tough. But we’re scrappy.”

Condon finished with nine rebounds, while Archer had eight.

“I knew coming into the game that Forest Hills was a team that struggled with rebounds,” Seacoast head coach Skyler Archer said. “We focused on — if we let them shoot — (hold them to) one shot (per possession). One shot, that’s it.”

PLAY OF THE GAME: Down by as much as 11 at the start of the second half, the Tigers outscored the Guardians 18-15 in the third quarter and eventually tied the game 62-62 with three minutes left in the fourth quarter. Rivas was responsible for the tying point, driving the lane for a layup while getting fouled on the play. He missed the ensuing free throw.

AGE IS JUST A NUMBER: This was the first playoff victory as a head coach for Archer, who at 19 years old is the youngest to hold such a position in the state. He took over the program this winter after graduating as a student last spring.

“We’ve had our ups and downs, we’ve had a tough schedule,” Archer said. “We’ve lost some games we should have won. But we’ve turned it around. It’s playoff time, when we need to play our best basketball.”

Last season, Archer was one of the key ingredients on a team that reached the semifinals before being knocked out by eventual Class D South champion Greenville.

Who did Seacoast beat in the quarterfinals before falling to Greenville? That would be Forest Hills, 70-55.

THEY SHOULD BE BACK: Forest Hills will graduate just three players — Carson Veilleux, Kenn Vito Cruz and Jack Hoyt. The Tigers will return most of their core group for the 2018-2019 season, including top player Parker Desjardins, who missed most of the season due to an injury.

Dave Dyer — 621-5640

[email protected]

Twitter: @Dave_Dyer

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