SOUTH CHINA — There are so many little things that can separate a playoff contender from a winless team. On Friday night, the biggest little thing was contested shots in the paint.

The Erskine girls basketball team, which has not won a game this season, missed a few too many of those close-range shots. Erskine got within five points several times in the second half, but Messalonskee held on for a 55-44 victory.

“We start finishing shots, we’re going to win some games,” Erskine coach Scott Corey said. “I don’t think they’re any better than we are, but they played better than we did. But I liked our effort.”

Messalonskee (6-6) is still battling for an Eastern A playoff spot, while Erskine (0-11) will in almost all likelihood play in Class B next season because of declining enrollment.

Both teams were a little sloppy and in some foul trouble in the first half, and Messalonskee’s depth keyed its 29-21 lead at halftime. Abby Roberts and Taylor Easler each had five of their seven points off the bench in the first half.

Messalonskee also used the speed of Kassi Michaud (11 points) and Nikki Collier to beat Erskine’s press, then sent the ball down low to Mikayla Turner (14 points, nine rebounds) and Kelsey Mayo (10 points, 11 rebounds).

“Our ball movement was really good tonight, especially against that zone,” Messalonskee coach Keith Derosby said. “We got good shots. We got the ball inside. There were times when everyone was touching the ball.”

Erskine was led by Bridget Humphrey (13 points, 10 rebounds), but she also sat for parts of the game with foul trouble.

“She switches hands in mid-air and she’s just so athletic,” Derosby said. “Turner really did a nice job on her — had her hands full. Mikayla really did the best (job) on her that we could have.”

Mia Taylor (eight points) and the outside shooting of Alyssa Gartley and Hannah Bridges kept Erskine close in the second half. With 1:46 left in the fourth quarter, Erskine trailed 48-43 and forced a turnover. After a timeout, Humphrey drove to the basket, and on a call that could have gone either way, was whistled for a charge and her fifth foul. Messalonskee outscored Erskine 7-1 the rest of the way.

“That’s going to happen,” Corey said of the call. “We were in that position, and unfortunately, that was her fifth, but that’s the way it goes. That’s irrelevant. We had a chance to get a lead in the first four minutes, and we didn’t do it.”

Matt DiFilippo — 861-9243
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