WINSLOW — Lindsey Welch, the girls basketball coach at Winslow High School, made a point to tell her players that Maine Central Institute is actually a pretty decent team despite winning only two games this season. Coaches say this sort of thing all the time, but it doesn’t mean it’s false.
After Winslow controlled the game early, MCI showed that Welch knew what she was talking about. The Huskies got close and never went away, and Winslow needed the shooting of Devin Fitzgibbons and the scoring and rebounding of freshman Heather Kervin to hang on for a 42-35 victory. Winslow is now 9-3, while MCI is a very misleading 2-10 under first-year coach Wes Brann.
“We knew from game one: We went to MCI and we won on the free throw line,” Welch said. “We knew that they were going to be scrappy, and they’re very well-coached. He has his players playing extremely hard. We knew it was going to be a battle.”
While MCI has been playing most teams competitively, the Huskies were coming off a 48-33 loss to Erskine on Thursday night.
“Last night, we took a step backwards,” Brann said. “Tonight, we played like we have been playing. The girls were right in it. Like I told them in the locker room, it’s the little things. They made their free throws. We didn’t. They got some offensive putbacks. We didn’t. It’s the little things that we’ve got to do to compete. I’m pleased with the effort.”
Most of the putbacks Brann was referring to were by Kervin, who finished with 17 points and 17 rebounds, and always seemed to be around the ball after a missed shot.
“She just has that nose to really crash the boards, especially offensively,” Welch said. “She does a great job. I’ve never seen a player like that before.”
Kervin had eight points in the first half, as Winslow led 10-5 after one quarter and 19-7 with two minutes left in the first half. Most of her points came on offensive rebounds.
“My favorite part of basketball is the physicalness, so I just kind of do it, and it works out for me,” Kervin said. “I have a lot of practice with it. You’ve just got to fight.”
After MCI fell behind by 12, Brann thought the Huskies were more patient on offense. The trimmed the lead to 19-12 by halftime, and came charging out of the box in the third quarter. Ashley Alton (11 points) drilled a long 3-pointer, and Katie Hughes made a follow-up basket. Just 36 seconds into the second half, Winslow’s lead was down to 19-17. The Huskies continued to stay close behind Alton and Brianna Losse (nine points).
Fitzgibbons, who finished with 13 points, hit two big 3-pointers in the third quarter. Both times, the Black Raiders passed the ball around patiently, drawing the defense away from Fitzgibbons and leaving her wide open behind the arc. Her first 3-pointer made it 23-19, and the second put Winslow ahead 27-23.
Kervin, Delaney Wood, and Hannah Doble helped Winslow go 9 for 15 from the line in the fourth quarter to seal the win. While Winslow is hoping to angle into position for a first-round bye, MCI is content to be thinking playoffs one year after finishing 0-18.
“Mentally, it’s tough to take a loss, and to be only a two-win team at this point, as well as they’ve played,” Brann said. “But we look at it this way. We’ve got six more point-valuable teams to play. So why not give it our best shot every night? And they have been.”