READFIELD — For every basketball team with low confidence, there is an opponent taking advantage. On Friday night, Maranacook girls coach Jeannine Paradis felt the game might have been different if her team had more confidence. On the other side, Nokomis coach Michelle Paradis thought the same thing.
Nokomis won 33-29 but it probably shouldn’t have been as easy as it was for the Warriors in the first half, and it probably shouldn’t have been as difficult as it was in the second half. After the break, Nokomis had 10 points and 13 turnovers.
“We were playing not to lose, and we didn’t play our game,” Michelle Paradis said. “All I can say is we won, and we’re going to take it as a W, and that’s all we’re good with.”
Nokomis (3-0) had won its first two games by a combined 91 points, and was expected to get a stiffer test Friday. They did in the first half, but still led 16-8 after one quarter and 23-12 at halftime. Taylor Shaw had all 13 of her points in the first half, and the Warriors consistently bothered Maranacook with full-court pressure and backcourt steals.
“I knew we had the potential to play with them, it’s just knowing how young we are, and whether or not my kids believed we could play with them,” Jeannine Paradis said. “At halftime, I said, ‘What’s going on?’ They said, ‘We don’t think we can win.’ I said, ‘That’s not an attitude that we can have at Maranacook. That’s certainly going to change.’ So they came out in the second half, and definitely showed that they could believe.”
Though Maranacook (2-1) never tied the score or took the lead after the break, the Black Bears certainly shook up Nokomis. Maranacook got within four points with more than five minutes to go in the fourth quarter. Christine Miller (14 points, eight rebounds) hit some big shots, but so did Ashley Belanger and Jessica Smith.
“They are very, very tough,” Michelle Paradis said. “If you don’t take care of the ball, they are going to steal it from you — which they did from us, a bunch of times. They make you panic with the ball, which we did as well.”
Kelsie Richards made two big shots in the final minutes to keep Nokomis in front. Richards, who was scoreless through three quarters, hit two clutch jumpers in the lane.
“We were playing like we were losing instead of playing like we were ahead,” Richards said. “And we didn’t take care of it like we should have. We’re going to definitely be working on that in practice. We’ll get it down by tournament time.”
Both teams are short-handed. Nokomis guard Kylie Richards is out for about another month. For Maranacook, Sarah Clough (who scored 19 points in one game this season and had eight steals in the other) is out with a knee injury, and Mariah Vining missed most of the game after banging her elbow against the floor.
“What we said to them in the locker room is us as a coaching staff, we have more confidence in them when they shoot the ball than they have confidence in themselves,” Michelle Paradis said. “We all believe in them. They have to believe in themselves.”
“I think this is a good confidence-builder for our kids, because Nokomis is usually one of the top teams in our league,” Jeannine Paradis said. “So to play with them, especially in our home gym, in front of our home crowd, hopefully will give us the confidence boost that we need to go into next week.”
Matt DiFilippo — 861-9243