The Lawrence girls basketball team has its last home game of the season Friday night against Mt. Blue. Still there won’t be any senior night festivities for the Bulldogs.

“We don’t have any seniors,” Lawrence coach John Donato said.

The Bulldogs are 11-4 this winter and Donato thinks they can finish anywhere from second to sixth in Eastern A. It will be Lawrence’s first appearance in the quarterfinals since 2009.

“No matter what you do during the season, the final prize is to win at least one game in the tournament,” Donato said. “If we do that, some kids will grow up really quickly.”

Lawrence has two of the better freshmen in the state in center Nia Irving and point guard Dominique Lewis. Sophomore Paige Belanger has also been consistent with her scoring and rebounding, and Donato credited the team-building of junior tri-captains Sam Mestieri, Shelby Rudnicki, and Bri Soucy.

“We’re playing together as a team better than I expected,” Donato said. “I think that when we play with unselfishness, we can play with anybody.”

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It didn’t result in a win, but Maine Central Institute had its best showing of the season Tuesday night. Facing a strong Belfast team, the Huskies were close all the way before dropping a 47-41 decision to fall to 0-15.

“We played fantastic,” MCI coach Jason Allen said. “I felt like we just managed to put all of the facets together for the first time all year. There’s nights where we defend really well but just can’t score, or we score and stop defending. I felt like (Tuesday) night we did a good job in every facet of the game.”

The Huskies had averaged 19.0 points per game over their previous four games. The 41 points against Belfast (10-4) was the most MCI has scored this season.

“My message after,” Allen said, “was, ‘Hey, that was a great effort. Let’s build off that and carry that over to the next couple games.’ ”

Those next two games — against Mt. View tonight and Waterville on Tuesday — are winnable ones for the Huskies. MCI lost 44-38 to Mt. View and 38-37 to Waterville in December.

MCI is young (sometimes starting as many as three sophomores) and guards Brianna Losee and Kat Smedberg each missed time this month with injuries. Both are back, and forward Cassie Miller has been a defensive standout. Miller held Oceanside star Kennadi Grover to seven points in a recent game.Under the new classification plan, MCI will be the smallest school in Class B, with 438 students.

Allen said MCI’s enrollment without the residential population is 312 students, which would be a Class C school. While some sports have strong contributions from the residential students, Allen said there is only one player in his program who is a residential student.

“I’ll play the hand that’s dealt,” Allen said. “That’s not why we’re at where we’re at. We play in a tough league.”

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At halftime of Messalonskee’s game against visiting Brewer on Tuesday, all of the Messalonskee youth players in attendance went on to the court, where they were joined briefly by the Eagles players and coaches.

After the game, the Eagles players, still in uniform, sat at tables and autographed balls for the younger players.

“We do this every year,” Messalonskee coach Keith Derosby said. “This is our rec program, and all our travel programs. We do this the next-to-last home game of every year, and the kids love it.”
Derosby added the Eagles practice early every Saturday morning, then the players pair off and coach one of the rec teams.

“So there’s really a good connection with the future of the program, just to try to keep that language and that bond with the little kids,” Derosby said. “They know us. They know me. They come up to these kids all the time. We had more of them here than we did our own students.”

Matt DiFilippo — 861-9243
mdifilippo@centralmaine.com