AUGUSTA — Monmouth Academy and St. Dominic aren’t used to winning — heck, even playing — playoff basketball at the Augusta Civic Center. So it was no surprise that Monday’s Class C South boys quarterfinal came down to the wire in a battle of teams looking to prove themselves.

In the end, Monmouth held off a furious rally by freshman guard Taylor Varney and the No.4 Saints to prevail, 50-47.

Varney led all scorers with 20 points, including 12 on four 3-pointers in the fourth that kept the Saints in the game. After Monmouth’s Manny Calder converted a free throw with 17.5 seconds left to make the score 50-47, St. Dom’s tried to get to ball back to Varney, but to no avail. A Saints’ 3-point attempt at the buzzer missed its mark, and the Mustangs mobbed center court in celebration.

Calder led Monmouth with 15 points.

The Mustangs (12-4) will face No. 8 Waynflete in the semifinals Thursday back at the Civic Center. St. Dom’s ended its season 14-6.

The game was filled with fouls — four Saints finished with at least four of them — whistles and a burning desire by both teams to prove they belonged in central Maine’s grand stage. Monmouth earned its eighth win in nine games for its first ACC playoff win since 2001, while St. Dom’s, making its first trip to Augusta in 13 years, lost for just the second time in seven games.


“If you asked our team if they played their best game, I think they’d say no, but I think if you asked them if they were happy with the result, they’d say yes,” Monmouth coach Wade Morrill said with a smile.

Hayden Fletcher and Sam Calder each added 11 points for Monmouth. Gabe Carey had 18 points for St. Dom’s.

Monmouth Academy’s Sammy Calder grabs a rebound in front of St. Dominic defender Michael Stowe during a Class C South quarterfinal game Monday night at the Augusta Civic Center. Andy Molloy/Kennebec Journal

The Mustangs sealed their win at the foul line, going 13-for-22 — 8-for-12 in the fourth — after a 19-for-49 effort in last Wednesday’s 64-35 prelim round win over Traip Academy.

We could have folded a few times, but our guys started hanging tough,” Morrill said. “We knew that Taylor Varney and Gabe Carey were going to be a load to handle. They have a great guard team with those two. They can shoot, they can penetrate, they can attack. It was just a great effort from our guys, they kept battling.”

Tough defense was on display at both ends of the floor. Neither team found much space when driving through the lane. No one scored in the game’s first 1:45 but Monmouth eventually took a 16-8 lead as Gavil Willett and Manny Calder turned steals into layups.

A foul-filled second quarter saw St. Dom’s cut the deficit to 23-18.

The physicality continued in the third quarter. Jonathan Tangilamesu, St. Dom’s 6-foot-1 freshman whose rebounding led the Saints’ defense, had four fouls before the third quarter was halfway done. Following a Monmouth backcourt violation and a timeout, St. Dom’s took its only lead on a Campbell Perryman 3-pointer with 2:32 left, but Monmouth regained the lead 1:20 later on a Calder bucket.

“I’m so proud of them,” said St. Dom’s coach Josh LaPrell, whose team graduates three starters, but returns a young core that includes Varney, Tangilamesu and Perryman. “We’ve come so far. We won 13 games in six years, and this year we won 14 and they battled. We were just one possession short, but my guys battled all night, and they dealt with some adversity and foul trouble and they kept battling.”


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