READFIELD — The Maranacook boys basketball team nearly filled the column labeled “bad passes” on its stat sheet Friday night, and Waterville took full advantage.
The Purple Panthers broke open a close game by outscoring the Black Bears 21-6 in the fourth quarter en route to a 68-48 win. Both teams are 3-5 in the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class B.
The game was tied at 42 late in the third quarter when Maranacook’s Taylor Wilbur and Kyle Boucher each picked up their fourth fouls and went to the bench. The Panthers took their defensive pressure up a notch after that and went on a 19-4 run, picking off several cross court passes for easy layups.
“We work a lot on practice on that, getting up and anticipating the passing lanes,” Waterville senior Josh Gormley said. “We’ve got a lot of athletes who can run the floor and finish well.”
Gormley had six steals, many in the fourth quarter when he scored 13 of his game-high 19 points. In all, the Black Bears made 20 “bad passes.”
“There’s no doubt that we’re an athletic team and we want to win, but we’ve got to get a lot smarter,” Maranacook coach Rob Schmidt said. “We didn’t think tonight.”
Justin Jabar and Chris Hale added 15 points apiece for Waterville while J.P. Michaud scored 10 and did a nice job on the 6-foot-8 Boucher, limiting him to five points and eight rebounds.
“Our guards did a nice job rebounding and not just relying on (Michaud) to gather rebounds,” Waterville coach Jason Briggs said.
The game started like both teams would scored 80 points. The Panthers went aggressively to the hoop while seven different players scored for Maranacook, which finished in front 22-20. The second quarter was more of the same as Waterville took a 34-32 lead at the half on the strength of six points apiece from Michaud and Hale.
The teams took a step back in the third quarter each trading turnovers — Waterville finished with 16 — for a stretch of four minutes. Hale went briefly to the bench as the Black Bears took a 42-39 lead on a driving layup from Jesse Evans. Hale returned to hit a 3 from the left side and Wilbur and Boucher picked up their fourth fouls shortly thereafter.
“It makes a big difference,” Schmidt said of the foul trouble.
By the time the pair returned, the game was already getting out of hand and both players eventually fouled out.
“It’s a big win for us,” Gormley said. “We’ve been struggling a little bit. We’ve been having a little trouble establishing roles and I think we kind of found out our identity today.”
Gary Hawkins — 621-5638