Thursday, December 5, 2013
By Matt DiFilippo firstname.lastname@example.org
OAKLAND -- In Eastern A girls basketball this winter, the teams are so even that one bad quarter can decide the game.
Messalonskee had a rough second quarter against visiting Brewer on Tuesday night, and spent the entire second half trying to catch up. Eventually, the Eagles ran out of time, and Brewer held on for a 49-45 victory.
The loss puts Messalonskee at 6-9 with three games remaining in the regular season. Eagles coach Keith Derosby feels Messalonskee will need to win its next two games (against Skowhegan and Mt. Blue) to safely secure a playoff spot.
Messalonskee is missing Delaney Collier (broken wrist) and Halee Flewelling (broken thumb). Their absence was especially problematic in the second quarter, when starting guards Nikki Collier and Kassi Michaud had to sit with foul trouble. The Eagles committed 11 turnovers in the second quarter -- most of them on unforced bad passes -- and trailed 25-22 at halftime.
While the three-point deficit certainly wasn't insurmountable, Messalonskee never got the lead back, and never got closer than three points in the fourth quarter. Brewer (8-7) has played in a number of close games this winter, and that may have helped the Witches.
"It seems like most of our games have been close, so we're familiar with it," Brewer coach Andy Nickerson said. "Some nights we seem to take of things, and some nights we don't. This was one of the nights went well for us. I thought our kids held their composure well."
Messalonskee worked its inside-outside game well enough to get open looks from long range, but hit only three of 17 3-pointers. Mikayla Turner (12 points, 10 rebounds) and Kelsey Mayo (10 points, 11 rebounds, five blocked shots) were the big factors down low, and Taylor Easler added 11 points.
Brewer also spread out its scoring, as Alexa Grindle and Maddy Bailey each had 12 points, while Lindsay Houp and Morgan Small hit for 10. Bailey had six points in the fourth quarter, including to foul shots to increase Brewer's lead to 48-41 with 1:11 to play.
"Kudos to them -- they're well-coached, and they hit their free throws," Derosby said. "It's tough to beat a team that just kind of holds their composure late in games."
Michaud hit a 3-pointer to get the Eagles within 48-44, but Messalonskee missed two 3s before Turner made a foul shot with 4.3 seconds left to make the score 48-45. Nickerson inserted sophomore Delaney Davis, who had not played all game. Davis was fouled and made the first free throw to put the game out of reach.
"She's a very, very good shooter, and another ball-handler," Nickerson said. "We had the confidence that she if she got fouled, she could step up and make that shot. She's a first-year player for us, but a kid that we have a lot of hopes and excitement for for the future."
Matt DiFilippo -- 861-9243