Georges Valley boys basketball coach Scott Johnson has been preaching the importance of making the most of their free-throw shooting opportunities to his Buccaneers all season. Tuesday night at Thomaston against Heal Point-worthy Boothbay Region, it appears the Bucs have seen the light.

Hovering around .500 for most of the season, Georges Valley was badly in need of a win Tuesday night to help the hosts get back into the thick of the Western Class C playoff chase. And their performance at the foul line keyed their strong all-around play against the Seahawks as the Bucs upended the visitors 60-41 in a pivotal Mountain Valley Conference showdown.

The Buccaneers (7-8) converted 22-of-28 free throws (79 percent) in Tuesday night’s victory, while converting an impressive 17-of-19 (89 percent) in the second half. Dylan Maloney and Alex Wallace each netted eight fouls shots for the Bucs. Boothbay Region (10-5) shot 2-of-7 (29 percent) from the charity stripe.

“We took the ball to the basket,” said Johnson. “That was the difference in us getting so many foul shots. [Boothbay] tends to shoot more from the outside and we shut them down fairly decent. We put pressure on them the whole game and they just weren’t on their game.”

Georges Valley jumped to a 13-2 lead after the first quarter and pushed the lead to 29-10 at halftime. The Seahawks made a run in the third quarter, but the Bucs maintained a 43-28 advantage after three quarters.

Alex Grierson netted 18 points for the Bucs, while Maloney chipped in 12; Logan Cross and Wallace, each 10; Daniel Arsenault, four; Ketch Cowan, three; Robbie Beverage, two; and Alec Young, one.

Anthony Dimauro led Boothbay with 15 points, while Scott Alley added six; Brian Hubbard and Jake Simmons, each four; Dan Dickinson, three; Rob Cronk, two; and Ryan Murphy, one.

The win pushed the Bucs (7-8, 42.1296 points) from 11th to seventh in the latest installment of Heal Points in Western Class C, while Boothbay Region (10-5, 54.0123 points) remain fourth. Livermore Falls (12-3, 70.0617), coached by former Georges Valley standout student-athlete Travis Magnusson, is the top team in the region.

The top 10 teams qualify for the postseason in Western Class C.

“I told [the Buc players] that this game was either going to put us in [the playoffs] or take us out,” said Johnson. “I’m not sure with the [Heal Points], but if you lose a big game like that at home, that would have been hard to swallow.”

Johnson also thought his team rebounded well against the Seahawks and has been playing well defensively, holding teams to fewer than 50 points in six of their last eight games.

Late in Tuesdya’s game the Seahawks made a valiant attempt at a rally, but the Bucs held the visitors at bay with their superior free-throw shooting.

“They’d hit a [3-pointer] and then they’d come and foul us [to send us to the free-throw line] and we were making them,” said Johnson. “What I’ve been telling the kids is if they foul us and we don’t make two free throws, you can almost count it as a turnover. We just needed to make our foul shots, and we shot real well.”

Johnson said five of Georges Valley’s six losses this season could be directly attributed to poor free-throw shooting, and that he hopes Tuesday’s effort from the charity stripe is the turning point for the Bucs.

“We lost five games because we missed more foul shots than [the number of points] we lost by,” he said. “So we’re going to keep working on it. We’re getting ready for Jay and hopefully we’ll keep it going.”

The Bucs have three games remaining in the regular season — at Jay Friday, Jan. 29; host Monmouth Academy on Tuesday, Feb. 2; and finish at Class B Lisbon Thursday, Feb. 4.

As for the Bucs’ mentality going forward? “We’re trying to win out,” said Johnson.

Village NetMedia Associate Sports Director Mark Haskell can be reached at 207-594-4401 or by e-mail at mhaskell@villagesoup.com.