Injuries forced Winslow to play Tuesday night’s game at Leavitt without two key players, starting forward Justin Martin and sixth man Brandon Deas. Both were going to try to practice on Thursday, and coach Jared Browne said each is a game time decision for Friday’s home game against Maine Central Institute.

Martin, a 6-foot-6 sophomore, suffered an ankle injury in the Black Raiders’ season-opening loss at Oceanside. Deas, a 6-2 junior, has a hyper-extended knee, and also was injured against the Mariners. Martin tried to practice Wednesday, Browne said.

“He’s still a little shaky,” Browne said.

In their place, Justin and Josh Kervin played very well, Browne said. Justin, a 6-2 junior, slid into Martin’s spot in the starting lineup.

“Justin doesn’t fill a stat sheet, but he does a lot to help us out,” Browne said. “He boxes out, he plays smart defense.”

A 5-10 sophomore, Josh Kervin had to defend players much bigger than himself.

“We had him on guys who are 6-4, 6-5 and he got six rebounds,” Browne said.

Tonight’s game is the first of five consecutive home games for the Black Raiders. After playing most of the preseason on the road, as well as two regular-season games, Winslow is eager to play in front of a friendly crowd.

“Our students are really looking forward to this. The students really support us,” Browne said.

* * *

Messalonskee coach Peter McLaughlin wasn’t happy with the outcome of Tuesday’s game, a 67-57 overtime loss to Bangor. McLaughlin found some things upon which his young team can build.

“We competed,” McLaughlin said. “It was probably the best thing for our guys. We talked about it a lot and they feel like they should have won the game.”

There’s no doubt the Eagles are improved. Messalonskee is 1-1 heading into tonight’s tough game at Lawrence (2-0).

McLaughlin said the guards, led by Jordon Holmes, Travis Stacey and Ryan Erskine, are playing well. Nick Mayo, a 6-5 sophomore, has been a pleasant surprise in the post, McLaughlin said.

“Nick has scored some big points here and there and he’s rebounding like crazy,” McLaughlin said.

In Lawrence (2-0), the Eagles face an opponent they know will play intense defense.

“They’re relentless,” McLaughlin said of the Bulldogs. “They’re athletic.”

* * *

If Waterville earns a spot in the regional tournament in Bangor come February, the Purple Panthers might look back on these first few weeks as the key points of the season.

On Tuesday, Waterville hosted Nokomis. The game was the Panthers’ only home game until Jan. 3.

“One home game in December. It will test us early,” coach Jason Briggs said after his team’s 60-41 win.

Waterville plays at Belfast tonight and at Maine Central Institute and Winslow next week. The Panthers end their string of road games at Medomak Valley on Dec. 27.

Playing on the road early means the Panthers will be at home for many key games heading into the playoffs. Six of Waterviille’s final nine games will be at home, including the final three games of the regular season.

Briggs feels like his team is already benefitting from its tough early schedule. The Panthers lost in overtime on opening night at Camden Hills, 62-58, but were in the gym the next morning, ready to move on.

“It’s the leadership of these guys. They bounced back Saturday morning and had a great practice. It’s on them. It’s on our leadership,” Briggs said.

* * *

Former Nokomis star Chris Braley is off to a strong start in his second season of prep basketball at Phillips Exeter Academy.

A Newport native, Braley averages 18.5 points per game for the 4-0 Big Red. Braley scored 17 points in Wednesday’s 74-68 overtime win against Milton Academy. On Saturday, Braley scored a game-high 21 points in an 85-49 win over Tabor Academy.

This weekend, Phillips Exeter hosts the Seacoast Challenge tournament.

* * *

Around the state: Rangeley will finally start its season tonight, hosting Richmond in an East/West Conference game… Jonesport-Beals star Garet Beal, who recently announced he’ll play his college basketball at the University of Maine, is off to a strong start. Beal scored 28 points in an 81-69 win over Woodland and 27 points in a 77-50 win over Narraguagus. Jonesport-Beals, the defending Class D state champ, is 2-0.

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]