AUGUSTA — It was Jan. 6 and the Messalonskee and Oceanside boys basketball teams played one of those games that neither side would forget the rest of the way.

“It was an absolute war with them,” Messalonskee coach Pete McLaughlin said. “That game put a lot into perspective for both teams.”

The Mariners trailed throughout much of the contest but pulled out a 54-52 win when sophomore Cooper Wirkala drained a pair of three throws in the final seconds of regulation.

“When you lose a game like that, it puts some things in perspective in how you close out games,” added McLaughlin, his voice still hoarse a day after his Eagles upended Skowhegan 64-55 in overtime in a Class A North semifinal.

Next up for Messalonskee?

Another shot at Oceanside, and with plenty more at stake this time around.

No. 3 Oceanside (17-3) and No. 5 Messalonskee (15-5) will play for the A North championship Friday at 2:45 p.m.

Prior to that, familiar foes Messalonskee and Nokomis will play for the A North girls crown, with tip-off set for 1 p.m.

The top-seeded Messalonskee girls (20-0) rolled through the regular season and the first two games of the tournament, winning all but six of their games by 20 or more points.

The Eagles thrashed the Warriors in the regular season, 74-37 on Jan. 31.

Still, Eagles coach Keith Derosby expects a closer game Friday.

“We went up there and had a really good game,” he said. “This is going to be closer. Their starting five is as good as anybody. They have kids who can shoot and they have good team speed. It’s a tough matchup for us.”

Nokomis coach Michelle Paradis said the strategy Friday is simple: Slow the pace of the game.

“We have to,” she said. “We need to slow this thing down, walking the ball up the floor. They won’t shoot poorly. They shoot good all the time so we have to slow this thing down. We don’t do well in track meet situations anyway. We have to control the pace of this game.”

The Eagles are receiving strong play from up and down their roster, including Ally Turner, McKenna Brodeur, Gabrielle Wener and Miss Maine Basketball semifinalist Sophie Holmes.

Brodeur is averaging a double-double in the tournament while Holmes is averaging 24.5 points a game.

Nokomis (16-4) brings plenty of experience into the showdown, with five seniors and as many juniors on the roster.

Sidney Moore is averaging 17 points a game in the regional while Chelsea Crockett is a double-double threat each time the Warriors take the floor.

“We have some scorers,” Paradis said. “It does help that this team is a veteran team with tournament play experience, too.”

“They have some tough kids,” Derosby added.

The Messalonskee boys, meanwhile, will have their hands full with an Oceanside quad that is looking for its second straight trip to the state final. The Mariners entered the A North tournament as the fifth seed last season, before knocking off Messalonskee, Hampden and Medomak. Oceanside fell in the Class A state game to Falmouth, 59-28.

“We lost to them last year in the first round, and I have not forgot that moment,” Messalonskee senior captain Nate Violette said. “So I just know that, hey, they don’t know what’s coming. This is a new team that they’re going to see in the playoffs.”

“We know these guys well,” McLaughlin added. “We’ll be ready for them.”

Staff writer Drew Bonifant contributed to this report.

Bill Stewart — 621-5618

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Twitter: @billstewartMTM