WINSLOW — When Maranacook’s press is going good, it’s highly annoying. When it’s very good, it’s like a swarm. Saturday night’s defense was like a full-blown infestation.
Many girls basketball teams employ a full-court press, but Maranacook does it all game, and the Black Bears even do it after they miss a field goal attempt. That press frazzled Winslow and wore down the Black Raiders, and Maranacook came away with a 31-23 Kennebec Valley Athletic Confernce Class B victory.
“As soon as we rebound, they immediately have two (defenders) there,” Winslow coach Lindsey Welch said. “I almost feel like they’re popping out of the floor. I don’t even know where they’re coming from.”
Both Maranacook (8-5 in Western B) and Winslow (5-8 in Eastern B) are in good shape for the playoffs. Winslow tried to make it so that the game came down to the Black Raiders defense on Maranacook sophomore Christine Miller. In that department, Winslow was extremely successful. Miller, a 5-foot-11 center, took only a couple shots inside 15 feet, and Maranacook was never able to give her an entry pass in the post.
“Mostly every team that we’ve played has doubled me in the paint,” said Miller, who finished with 11 points, seven rebounds, and six blocked shots. “So I try to step out to get on the outside and free up the middle.”
Maranacook was also missing starters Sarah Clough and Jessie Smith, but Kristen Hall gave the Black Bears a lift off the bench. Hall, a sophomore, made four of nine shots from the field and was the game’s third-leading scorer, with eight points.
“She’s normally one of my JV swingers, and doesn’t get a lot of minutes,” Maranacook coach Jeannine Paradis said. “She really was a huge spark. In the first half, she hit some shots. Second half, she played great defense. She really deserves a lot of the accolades for what we did tonight.”
There were a few mistakes and other unmentionables with the game production. A few close calls upset the teams, and with 2:31 to play in the game and Maranacook trying to stall with a five-point lead, the clock didn’t start for several seconds after the ball went in play. Both teams also shot under 20 percent from the field.
In this helter-skelter atmosphere, the Maranacook players kept their cool. The Bears led 19-15 at the half, and it was tied at 23 when Winslow’s Devin Fitzgibbons (10 points) drained a 3-pointer with 1:25 left in the third quarter. After that, Winslow did not score.
“We had some key stops, and we had some great traps,” Paradis said.
Winslow finished with 29 turnovers, compared to 10 for Maranacook. The Raiders are off until Friday against Maine Central Institute, then have back-to-back-to-back games against league powers Oceanside, Leavitt, and Nokomis.
“We have a week to prepare, and get our legs back underneath us,” Welch said. “When they press for 32 straight minutes, of course we’re going to run out of gas. Same with them. But it’s a matter of playing through it, and we’ll get there. We will.”
Matt DiFilippo — 861-9243