AUGUSTA – It was a classic size versus speed matchup in the Class D boys semifinal round at the Augusta Civic Center on Wednesday morning.

In the end, A.R. Gould’s size was too much for Valley’s speed. The third-seeded Bears gained the lead in the fourth quarter and held on for a 56-51 win against a Valley squad that featured the three-point shooting of diminutive guard Joey Thomas and the slashing drives of Josh Brown.

Gould (16-4) will play top-seeded Greenville for the Class D South title Saturday in a rematch of last year’s game. Second-seeded Valley finishes its season at 14-6.

With 6-foot-5 Alex Shoureas and 6-3 Ernie Larange prowling the paint, Gould held a decided size advantage.

“That’s all we practiced was to get into rebounding position and take the shots that we saw coming off the rim,” Gould coach Chad Sturgis said.

Larange scored six of his 12 points in the final four minutes of the game, including a pair of crucial free throws with 21 seconds left to give his team 55-51 lead. Brown, who finished with 20 points, had cut the lead to 53-51 with a 3-pointer from the top of the key and a putback. He picked up his fifth foul against Larange. Larange added nine rebounds while Shoureas scored 14 points and grabbed 10 boards.


“We don’t have much size at all,” Valley coach Curtis Miller said. “We have people that will bang around down there it’s just that when you have that four or five inches it’s tough to get rebounds.”

This was a game of runs. Gould went ahead 7-0 then Valley responded with 13 straight, highlighted by three 3-pointers from Thomas. He added a fourth in the quarter to give the Cavs a 21-12 lead at the break.

The Bears face-guarded Thomas, then went to a zone but couldn’t slow the 5-3 junior down. He connected on three straight 3s in the third period, the last giving the Cavs a 39-37 lead.

Sturgis called timeout and went to a box-and-one defense that proved effective.

“We tried to shade help to him the entire time,” Sturgis said. “But he’s so fast he got open in the corners and stuck a lot of long 3s so we went box-and-one on him.”

Thomas finished with 21 points on seven 3-pointers, one shy of the Class D tournament single-game record. He also tied the tournament record with 12, accomplished in just two games.


“He plays through it,” Miller said of the defensive attention Thomas received. “He gets used to it. He sees it all the time. You hit five 3s you’re going to start seeing a little pressure on you.”

Although the teams didn’t play in the regular season, they also met in last year’s semifinal round.

“It’s very different,” Sturgis said. “Our players last year were extremely athletic, extremely fast. This year we have a true center, two good ball-handlers and two really good spot-up shooters.”

Sophomore Tristin Chamberlain connected on three 3s and finished with 11 points while senior Kyle Hurd hit a pair of 3s.

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