February 2, 2013

GIRLS BASKETBALL: Nokomis puts it together vs. Maranacook

By Matt DiFilippo mdifilippo@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer

NEWPORT -- For a team with a 14-2 record, the Nokomis girls basketball team has still wrestled with inconsistency this winter. Sometimes, the Warriors look wonderful. Sometimes, it's the opposite. In the first half of Saturday afternoon's game against Maranacook, the Warriors went in both directions.

Then the second half began, and Nokomis was wonderful again. The Warriors outscored Maranacook 39-10 after the break to take a 69-35 Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class B victory.

Nokomis began the second quarter with a 16-0 run, but still led only 30-25 at the half. That's because that 16-0 run was immediately followed by 13 straight points by Maranacook.

"In a four-minute stretch, we had the greatest basketball we've ever played, and then we had the worst basketball we've ever played," Nokomis coach Michelle Paradis said. "So basically, I reamed 'em a new one in the locker room at halftime, and they totally responded, 100 percent, how I wanted them to come out."

Just over two minutes into the second half, Nokomis had built its lead back to 43-27. The Warriors hit their first five shots, including three fast-break layups by Taylor Shaw, who finished with 14 points.

Nokomis ultimately went on a 29-3 run. The only Maranacook points in that stretch came on a three-point play by Jessie Smith with 1:47 left in the third quarter to make it 43-30. Nokomis scored the next 18 points before a free throw by Maranacook's Christine Miller with 4:23 to go in the game. Right after Miller's free throw, six-footer Traci Carson, who shoots predominately from the paint, buried a shot from just inside the 3-point line. It was that kind of second half for the Black Bears.

But while the second half was Nokomis dominance, the first 16 minutes were about a wild a half as you could ask for. Maranacook (10-6) made four of its first five field goal attempts and led 8-5. Nokomis, leading 12-10 after one quarter, pushed that to 28-10 within a few minutes. The highlights were the play of Anna MacKenzie (21 points, 15 rebounds) and Taylor Lovley, and a falling down three-point play by Mikayla Charters.

To make things worse for Maranacook, Christine Miller picked up her second foul during the run. Maranacook coach Jeannine Paradis left her in, and Miller led the Black Bears back. Miller hit a 3-pointer, drove for a three-point play, and made a steal and layup. She finished with a team-high 17 points, 14 of those in the first half.

While MacKenzie and Shaw were the big scorers for Nokomis in the second half, the Warriors bench totaled 21 points, and Carson grabbed seven rebounds.

"Everybody who came off the bench tonight made a great contribution," Michelle Paradis said. "Whether it be a great defensive stop, or a steal, or a block, they all came in and did a great job."

Maranacook had won five games in a row, including one over a Belfast team that handed Nokomis one of its two losses. The Black Bears also lost by four points to Nokomis earlier this season. But after six competitive quarters, the last two made it look like Nokomis was just too strong.

"Hopefully, this gets us back on track," Jeannine Paradis said. "We still have two tough games ahead of us. We have Leavitt at home and Gardiner at home, both teams that beat us early in the season. Do we think we can play with them? Yeah, I think we can. I still have faith in the girls. We just need to make sure that we regroup, and do the little things that we do well, and capitalize on opportunities when they become available."

Matt DiFilippo -- 861-9243



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