The Winslow High School boys basketball team played Tuesday’s game at Waterville without senior forward Justin Kervin, who suffered a hip injury last week in a game at Mt. View.

“He’s day to day. He’s going to see how it feels (Wednesday) in practice, but he can’t put any weight on his right leg. He can’t go up for a left-handed layup or anything,” Winslow coach Jared Browne said following the Black Raiders’ 59-54 win over Waterville.

Senior D.K. Herman stepped into the starting lineup for Winslow, and played well, particularly on the defensive end, where he helped keep Waterville big man Owen Brown in check. Herman grabbed three rebounds, and his only points of the game came with just over a minute to play, when his layup gave the Black Raiders the lead for good.

Josh Kervin, Justin’s brother, came off the bench and scored eight points for Winslow.

“D.K. Herman played great. He stepped up. He’s been our sixth man, so sliding him up into the starting lineup wasn’t a big change for us,” Browne said. “It left us a little thin, in case guys get in foul trouble. D.K. and Josh Kervin off the bench are as good as anyone we start, and if someone goes down, we don’t skip a beat.”

The Black Raiders (13-3) are in fourth place in the Eastern Class B Heal Point standings, nine points behind Mt. Desert Island. The top three teams in the region earn byes out of the preliminary round to the quarterfinals at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor. With regular games remaining against Leavitt (3-12) and Erskine (0-15), it will be tough for Winslow to earn enough points to jump over the Trojans (11-4). MDI closes the season with three home games against George Stevens Academy, John Bapst and Ellsworth.

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Waterville coach Wade Morrill was pleased with his team’s effort in Tuesday’s 59-54 loss to Winslow. The game showed how much the Purple Panthers have improved since a 76-58 loss at Winslow in December.

“There was a lot more positive than negative that we can take from this contest, considering over there, we lost by (almost) 20,” Morrill said.

A highlight for the Panthers (8-6) this season has been the play of senior center Owen Brown. A key reserve last season, the 6-foot-4 Brown stepped into the starting lineup and became an offensive threat and top rebounder for the Panthers.

“Coming into the year, we knew Owen was going to have to step up and have a big year for us. We don’t have a ton of vertical size,” Morrill said. “We have some wide bodies, some rugged kids who do a fantastic job for us. Corey Huerfano, Matt Bernier and Ben Cox have been great for us in the middle… Owen’s been a big force for us this year.”

Brown came up big in last week’s 62-56 win over Camden Hills, Waterville’s most important victory of the season. That win took Waterville off the playoff bubble and gave the Panthers some breathing room over Foxcroft and Mt. View, two teams it’s fighting against for a playoff spot.

The Panthers are in 12th place in Eastern Maine, with 13 teams advancing to the tournament. Waterville’s next game is Friday night, at home against Mt. View.

“We’ve got a big game on Friday night, and we have to put our energy into that now,” Morrill said.

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New Valley coach Luke Hartwell didn’t get to work with the Cavaliers during the summer, so much of the first half of the season was spent teaching his team its new system. Valley is 12-3, and Hartwell feels the Cavs are playing their best basketball now.

“They’re starting to get it,” Hartwell said.

Just in time, too, because Valley has arguably the toughest final week of any team in Western Class D. The Cavaliers play at Searsport (3-12) on Friday, before home games next week against Hyde (12-1) and Greenville (11-2).

Hartwell said not to be fooled by Searsport’s record.

“Their record is deceptive because they play a lot of Class C teams,” Hartwell said.

Valley lost at Hyde earlier this season, and won at Greenville. The Cavs are currently fourth in Western Class D. The top five earn byes to the regional quarterfinals at the Augusta Civic Center.

“We’re trying to get a top five spot and get out of the prelims,” Hartwell said. “We want to get that straight shot to Augusta.”

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Around the state: There’s a tight battle for last four playoff spots in Eastern D, between five teams. Katahdin, Bangor Christian, Schenck, Wisdom and Ashland are all within three Heal points of each other… Beginning Thursday, Calais had a tough stretch of three road games in three days. The Blue Devils traveled to Lincoln to take on Mattanawcook Academy, then to Sullivan to face Sumner, before going to Fort Kent on Saturday. The combined round trip for the Blue Devils is approximately 734 miles… When Piscataquis plays at Narraguagus on Feb. 6, it could be for a playoff spot. Narraguagus is less than a point ahead of Piscataquis for the 11th and final playoff spot in Eastern C.

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242tlazarczyk@centralmaine.comTwitter: @TLazarczykMTM