If Messalonskee makes a deep run in the Eastern Class A tournament, the depth the Eagles showed off this week will be a factor.
Messalonskee (8-3) played Tuesday’s game, a 65-62 win over Lawrence, without starting forward Jordan Carson, who missed the game with an illness. The 6-foot-2 Carson plays bigger than he is, and is the guy the Eagles count on to do the dirty work underneath the basket, rebound and work hard at both ends of the court. Carson’s style has complemented and taken pressure off 6-7 Nick Mayo.
“He’s the guy that patrols the paint when Mayo is getting sealed by a couple guys. Teams really focus on keeping (Mayo) off the boards, and Carson’s averaging 10 rebounds a game. He’s that bull in a china shop that completes our team.
With Carson out, 6-5 Eric Van Der Karr stepped into the starting lineup and had five rebounds and a blocked shot. Sophomore Taylor Turner was the first player off the bench for the Eagles and scored 13 points, including three free throws in the final minute that helped Messalonskee seal the win.
“Taylor Turner hit huge foul shots for a sophomore who’s never really been in that situation,” McLaughlin said.
Messalonskee was ranked third in the Eastern A Heal point standings on Thursday, but staying there will not be easy. Six of the Eagles’ final seven games are on the road, beginning Friday at Oxford Hills (7-4).
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Mt. View is 6-6 and almost four points out of the final playoff spot in Eastern B. First-year coach Chad Larrabee said the Mustangs have the talent to make a playoff run, but they’ll need a big win or two down the stretch.
“We’re going to have to beat somebody worth some points. We have some big games coming up,” Larrabee said. “We’ll have to play well, but we’re capable of that.”
The Mustangs are improving defensively, Larrabee said, but are still a long ways from where they want and need to be offensively. That was expected, with a new coach installing a new system.
Some bright spots have been junior Nathan Wren, who has provided the Mustangs with scoring punch, and senior point guard Jack Simpson.
“Jack’s been a real leader on the floor,” Larrabee said.
Mt. View plays at Belfast on Friday, before home games with Lincoln Academy and Winslow next week.
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It’s been a frustrating season for Nokomis. The Warriors expected to contend for a playoff spot in Eastern Class B, but fell to 2-9 with Tuesday’s loss to Maranacook.
“You’ve got to play with some passion. We don’t play with passion all the time,” Nokomis coach Carl Parker said. “When adversity comes, it’s important that someone steps up.”
The Warriors have played well at times, just not consistently. For instance, Nokomis led 19-14 late in the first quarter against Maranacook, but a turnover led to a Maranacook 3-pointer. That sparked a 12-0 run to end the quarter and gave the Black Bears a 26-19 lead they never relinquished.
“One bad play leads to three bad plays and all of a sudden they hit three threes,” Parker said.
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Around the state: Heal points are fickle. Despite Tuesday’s 69-60 win over previously unbeaten Bonny Eagle, Portland (11-0) is still in third place in the Western A standings, behind Falmouth (10-1) and Bonny Eagle (11-1)… There’s a close battle for the top spot in Western B between Morse (9-3) and Greely (9-1). Morse holds the No. 1 seed by little more than a point… Boothbay and Dirigo are tied for the top spot in Western C. Boothbay beat Dirigo, 48-46, in early December. The teams do not meet again in the regular season.