Maranacook will be a team to watch in the Class C tournament and one of the players to watch will be senior guard Taylor Wilbur. The Black Bears are 8-4 playing a Class B schedule in the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference and Wilbur is leading the conference in scoring (just over 28 points per game) and 3-point shots made.
He added to both categoriesTuesday night in a win against Nokomis when he scored 34 points and made eight 3-pointers. Wilbur has made seven 3s on multiple occasions dating back to last season, but eight is his career high.
“Some are off the offense, most off screens,” he said. “Usually it’s just off the offense. It’s just whatever comes in the flow of the game.”
Wilbur has increased his range this season and often launches 3s from three or four feet behind the arc. That makes him tough to defend because he can also take the ball to the basket.
“He’s increased his range but he doesn’t change his form,” Maranacook coach Rob Schmidt said. “He was in the gym all the time during the offseason. He just took thousands of shots.”
Wilbur has faced a variety of defenses, including players from Camden Hills and Morse who face-guard him wherever he goes. Winslow held him to a season-low 13 points by putting 6-foot-6 Justin Martin on him. It helps that Maranacook has a couple of good outside shooters in Caleb Jackson and Kent Mohlar who can take up the slack.
Schmidt or one of his assistants have seen the top 12 teams in Western Maine Class C this season in preparation for the tournament.
“The Mountain Valley Conference is pretty interesting,” he said.
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Cony faces a critical stretch in the next three games beginning with tonight’s home game against Lawrence.
The Rams are 3-8 and in 10th place in the Eastern Maine Class A tournament standings, one spot away from a postseason berth. After Lawrence, they play at Lewiston on Monday then host Messalonskee on Wednesday and Oxford Hills on Friday.
“A week from today we’ll have a really good idea where we stand,” Cony coach T.J. Maines said. “We’ve got to start winning games at some point to make the tournament,”
Lawrence beat Cony 74-66 in Fairfield last month, and has come on strong since, winning six out of its last seven games. Longtime coach Mike McGee retired after a stellar career last season, leaving former assistant Jason Pellerin with just three returning players, none of them starters.
“They are opportunistic on offense,” Maines said. “They do a great job on the offensive rebounding. We have to be tough on the glass.”
Maines said his team has improved in the halfcourt, offensively and defensively in the past couple of weeks. The Rams have also cut down on their turnovers, now they have to work harder on creating some from their opponents.
“I’m hoping we can pick up our intensity up a little better,” he said.
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Gardiner lost to Lincoln Academy on Tuesday in Newcastle, then turned around and beat the same team at home Wednesday.
“We hurried some shots against their zone the first time,” Gardiner coach Jason Cassidy said. “(Wednesday) night we were very patient.”
The Tigers got a nice lift from 6-foot-2 senior transfer Ed Weymouth, who scored 20 points, most of them in the paint.
“Weymouth has really emerged,” Cassidy said.
Because of weather postponements and scheduling changes, the Tigers played eight of their first 10 games on the road. They’re 6-4 with a pair of one-point losses which bodes well for their chances down the stretch. Seven of their final eight games are at home.
“Our kids keep fighting,” Cassidy said. “We’ve got some teams we played tough the first half (of the season) coming to our place,”
Tonight, the Tigers host Morse, a team that beat them by a point last month in Bath. The Shipbuilders have good size and usually play a zone.
“This team, maybe you’ve got to run them a little more,” Cassidy said.
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Since losing to Spruce Mountain 41-36 on Dec. 15, Winthrop has reeled off nine wins in a row and is 11-2.
The Ramblers don’t play again until Monday when they travel to Boothbay to face the once-beaten Seahawks.
“That’s a big game against a really good team,” Winthrop coach Todd MacArthur said. “It’s a good measuring stick.”
MacArthur said his team matches up well with Boothbay, a team they’ll have to slow down in transition. He’ll also have to match wits with veteran Boothbay coach I.J. Pinkham.
“He’s probably the best coach we’ll see,” MacArthur said. “He scores from out of bounds probably better than every team.”
Winthrop has got good play of late from sophomore center Anthony Owens while Dakota Carter has improved steadily throughout the season.
“Carter has really come on in the last six or seven games,” MacArthur said. “He’s got a great first step, he’s really a slasher.”
Scoring is down for junior point guard Taylor Morang this season and that’s fine with MacArthur. In Monday’s win against Oak Hill, Morang had 10 assists and eight steals.
“His numbers have dropped but he’s matured into a point guard and he’s finding open guys,” MacArthur said. “In my mind that’s the best game he’s ever played.”