The Valley boys basketball team improved to 2-0 with Tuesday’s 64-56 win at Greenville. A big piece of the Cavaliers’ early season success has been the 3-point shooting of Dylan Belanger.
A senior forward, Belanger worked on adding the 3-pointer to his game in the off season, Valley head coach Luke Hartwell said. Belanger has six 3s and is shooting 40 percent from long range, Hartwell said.
Belanger scored 14 points in the Cavs’ season-opening win over Buckfield, and added 20 at Greenville.
“He’s gained a lot more confidence with his 3-point shot,” Hartwell said. “I told him, â€˜You need to be more of a focal point of our offense,'”
At the same time, Hartwell said Belanger hasn’t abandoned his unselfish style of play.
“He doesn’t force it up there. He knows when to make the right pass, and when to shoot,” Hartwell said.
Other seniors stepping up for Valley are Teagan Staples, who has done well rebounding, and Jordan Gillespie, who is playing the point.
“(Gillespie) has handled pressure well, and he’s been a defensive pest,” Hartwell said.
Valley makes the long trip to Vinalhaven for games tonight and Saturday morning. The trip includes an hour and a half ferry ride, and the team will spend the night in Vinalhaven’s gym.
“This will be a good test for us, phyically and mentally,” Hartwell said. “I think these boys can handle it.”
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Forest Hills improved to 4-0 with Thursday’s 72-37 win over Pine Tree Academy, and the Tigers are winning with a balanced offensive attack.
Four players — Matt Turner, Ryan Petrin, Tanner Daigle and Brandon Ouellette, are avereraging at least 10 points per game, and fifth starter Nathan Jalbert is playing strong defense, head coach Anthony Amero said.
“There’s no selfishness,” Amero said. “They don’t really care about stats.”
The Pine Tree game is a good example of the Tigers’ balance. Petrin led the team with 16 points. Ouellette scored 13, and Turner and Daigle each scored 12. Three different players have led the Tigers in scoring this season.
A key player off the bench last season, the 6-foot-4 Daigle came into the season in excellent shape and ready for an expanded role.
“Tanner put the time in in the weight room, and it shows,” Amero said.
Forest Hills plays at Acadia Christian on Saturday, before Tuesday’s game against rival Valley. Amero expects Tuesday’s game in Bingham to be a good early season test for his team, but added that because it’s early it’s best to not read to much into the outcome.
“The regular season’s nice,” Amero said, “but nobody shows their hand in December.”
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After a disappointing 57-54 loss to Mt. Ararat on opening night, Messalonskee looked much better in an 81-48 win over Brewer. Four players scored in double digits for the Eagles in the win.
“It was a really good team effort,” head coach Pete McLaughlin said.
It also was a chance for the Eagles to take a breath, and remember that they’re a good basketball team.
The loss to Mt. Ararat was disappointing, McLaughlin said, because the Eagles came into the season with high expectations and were not satisfied with the way they played, particularly in the first half, when Messalonskee trailed by as much as 14 points.
“I think we put too much pressure on ourselves,” McLaughlin said. “(Against Brewer) we just went and played the game we love to play, and it doesn’t have to be more than that.”
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Around the state: Bonny Eagle standout Dustin Cole became the school’s all-time leading scorer with 29 points in Tuesday’s 62-58 win at Cheverus… Hampden went undefeated to win the Class A state title last season, and the Broncos are rolling again. Hampden scored 86 points in a season-opening win over Brewer, and 84 points in a win over Bangor on Tuesday. The Broncos play at Brunswick (2-0) tonight… Due to increased enrollment, defending Class B champ Falmouth moved up to Class A this season. The Yachtsmen have just two games against a Class A opponent, Kennebunk, on the schedule.