By Kedrick Storey/Southern Sentinel
BOONEVILLE – For the third time this season, county rivals Blue Mountain and Falkner met on the hardwood. For the third time, the Cougars pulled away at the end.
Thursday, the guard play of Jacob Girley and Ismael Ruedas outlasted the inside muscle of the Eagles, and Blue Mountain won 63-55 to advance to their second consecutive Division 1-1A Tournament final.
Blue Mountain (27-3) faces Biggersville for a third time, tonight at 8:30.
Controlling the pace, the Eagles led 29-26 at halfime. Falkner guard Richard Green scored 12 points in the first half and post player Tray Woody added nine on a pair of buckets in each quarter. Woody scored the first bucket of the second half, but Blue Mountain began to make a move as one play later, Woody went to the bench with his third foul.
Girley scored the next eight points for Blue Mountain. His 3-pointer with at the 1:44 mark reclaimed a 39-37 lead. Girley had 14 in the quarter and finished with a game-high 27.
“I told them, ‘the third quarter, it’s going to be ours,’ ” said Blue Mountain coach David Mason, “It’s been ours all year. That’s when it turned.”
Ruedas gave Falkner fits with 12 fourth-quarter points. His bucket at the 2:40 mark drew Woody’s fourth foul and made it 59-50 Blue Mountain, their biggest lead of the game. Ruedas finished with 26.
All three post players for Falkner (10-16) fouled out in the final quarter.
“I felt coming in, our advantage – if we had any – was our post men, and there in the fourth most of them fouled out and that killed the momentum,” Falkner coach Jake Walker said.
“Those are my guys,” added Mason about his junior guards. “We give them the basketball to make the decision. I’ve trusted them since the 7th grade.”
Blue Mountain sprinted to a 7-1 lead on five quick points from Ruedas and a bucket from Travario McClinton before Falkner settled in and inched back to lead 10-9
Green added seven in the second quarter and gave Falkner a 28-21 lead on a 3-pointer with 1:57 to go until halftime.
Green finished with 17 points and Woody 13 for Falkner.