Boys basketball: Dirigo rallies to beat Mt. Abram, stay undefeated

Jan. 24—DIXFIELD — Dirigo made enough stops and enough shots at the end of Tuesday's game, and for the second time this month overcame a fourth-quarter deficit to defeat Mt. Abram 75-70.

Charlie Houghton helped the Cougars take the lead, and Dakota Tompkins help them put the game away.

The Cougars entered the fourth quarter trailing the Roadrunners 49-48. Dirigo sophomore Nathaniel Wainwright hit a 3-pointer to tie the game 51-51 early in the fourth. Tompkins evened the score again at 54-54, but Mt. Abram again pulled ahead when Payton Mitchell drained a 3. Another Mitchell basket pushed the Roadrunners' lead to five points.

Tompkins made a basket and then Charlie Houghton scored six straight points midway through the final period, giving the Cougars the lead for good, 62-59.

Tompkins secured the win by making six free throws near the end of the game.

"Dakota knocking those down was clutch," Houghton said. "That's what he does ... whenever we need him to step up, he'll step up."

Tompkins scored 13 points in the fourth and finished with 19.

"It's what he does," Wainwright said. "He's always good in clutch time."

Houghton led the Cougars with 23 points. Wainwright hit four 3-pointers and had 16 points.

The win improves defending Class C state champion Dirigo's record to 14-0.

"We feel really good, but we also have to know that we're going to get everyone's best game," Wainwright said, "and they gave us a really good game."

Mitchell poured in 15 in the fourth, including a pair of 3-pointers, and scored a game-high 25.

"One great thing about Payton is just how physical and headstrong he is," Roadrunners coach Dustin Zamboni said. "He'll fight to the very end every play. He'll face adversity right in the face and take it head-on, and I thought he did that the entire game. Physical game, he had two guys on him, he had at least a body on him the entire time, and he weathered the storm the entire game."

Kaden Pillsbury added 15 points and Cam Grey had 14 for the Roadrunners.

Dirigo also beat Mt. Abram 67-65 on Jan. 5 in Salem Township.

The matchup between two of the top three teams in the Class C South Heal point standings was close from the start, and the teams swapped the lead throughout the game. The Roadrunners led after the first and third quarters, while the Cougars led at halftime and the final buzzer.

Wainwright drained a pair of 3s early in the game to give Dirigo a 6-5 lead, and after two lead changes, the Cougars built a 13-9 advantage.

But Mt. Abram (8-3) scored the final nine points of the first quarter, capped by Grey's three-point play that sent the Roadrunners into the second period up 18-13.

The Cougars chipped away at the lead in the second. The Roadrunners still led by five, 24-19, with 4:36 remaining in the quarter — the last time either team held a five-point lead until Mt. Abram led 59-54 in the fourth quarter. A basket by Houghton and a three-point play by Trenton Hutchinson tied the game at 24-24 with 3:38 left in the half. Dirigo scored the half's final four points to take a 30-28 advantage into the break.

Houghton scored 11 points in the second quarter and 15 in the half. Kaden Pillsbury, who had two three-point plays in the second quarter, tallied eight first-half points.

Wainwright again scored four quick points for Dirigo in the third for a 34-30 lead, Grey scored seven on the quarter, and Mitchell and Pillsbury added six and four, respectively, to give Mt. Abram a lead heading into the fourth.

Though the Roadrunners lost, Zamboni said he was happy with how they played.

"They executed what we came out here to do. Our game plan was pretty on point," he said. "I'm sure we'll look back and we'll see all the breakdowns that we could have done better, a few closeouts, a few scrambles to get the right man, but all-in-all, I'm proud of each and every one of my players out there. I thought they worked their tails off the entire game."