AUGUSTA —  The Forest Hills boys basketball team was in an unusual position.

The Tigers — the No. 1 seed in Class D South and the defending state champions — trailed No. 4 Temple Academy by three at halftime in their semifinal matchup Wednesday morning at the Augusta Civic Center. And then Parker Desjardins heated up.

Thanks to his 34 points — 21 scored in the second half alone — the Tigers beat the Bereans 54-39. Forest Hills (20-0) will meet No. 3 Greenville, an upset winner over Rangeley earlier in the morning, in the regional final Saturday in Augusta.

Temple ends the season with a record of 9-11.

The Tigers had a difficult time finding their shooting touch in the first half. Temple also showed some tough defense, particularly in the post. The Bereans took full advantage of Forest Hills’ shooting woes, with guard Marko Ajvaz scoring 13 of his team-high 15 points to give Temple a 23-20 lead at halftime.

“That was a rough game,” Desjardins said. “We didn’t execute what we wanted to do and just had a hard time.”

“Credit to Temple, they forced us to play their speed,” Forest Hills coach Anthony Amero said. “Coach (Scott) Corey did a good job with that, we ended up playing their speed too much in the first (half).”

The lead would change hands five times at the start of the second half, but a 3-pointer by Desjardins with six minutes to play in the period began an 8-0 run and a lead the Tigers would never relinquish. In the third quarter alone, Desjardins scored 11 points.

“I didn’t want to lose,” Desjardins said. “I wanted to give it all I got and I just went out there and played as hard as I could.”

The Tigers ran away from the Bereans in the fourth quarter, outscoring Temple by a margin of 14-4 — including a 10-0 run late – to close out the game.

“We just kept telling our kids, ‘Don’t get frustrated,'” Amero said. “We keep telling them ‘It’s a four-quarter game. Nobody can condition with you guys for four quarters.’ That’s what we honestly believe. We weren’t tired, we could play another game right now and be good to go. We’ve got to play a lot better than we played today (in the regional final) against Greenville.”

Desjardins had nine rebounds to go along with his 34 points, while teammate Joey Poulin had six points and 10 rebounds. It was the third time the Tigers and Bereans have met this season, with Forest Hills getting the clean 3-0 sweep. The Tigers also beat the Bereans 87-53 on Jan. 8 and 80-43 on Jan. 14.

“(Temple has) really big guys, they’re fast, they played great,” Desjardins said. “They kept us shooting and we shot awful. They played Hunter (Cuddy) and Mason (Desjardins) really tight. They let me drive (to the lane for points), but I couldn’t shoot.”

Dragan Jovanovic scored 14 points and had seven rebounds for Temple.

Saturday’s regional final will pit teams that have made the last three Class D finals. Forest Hills won the Class D title last season with a 70-65 victory over Schenck. Greenville fell to Machias in 2017 before topping Woodland to win the 2018 Class D crown.

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