PITTSFIELD — When almost every player on the court can make a 3-pointer as if it were a layup, a 30-point lead can disappear like snow on a warm spring day.

Trailing Maine Central Institute by 30 points at the half, Phillips Exeter rallied to cut the Huskies lead to 10 late in the second half, before MCI rediscovered its shooting touch and pulled out an 82-70 win.

The game was played before a packed house, many fans in attendance to see former Nokomis star Chris Braley, a starter for Phillips Exeter. MCI is now 5-6, while Phillips Exeter is 7-1.

“Second half, we got back on our heels a little bit. We settled for the 30-point lead at halftime. They kicked it to us, but it was a good learning experience,” said Bangor native Tristan Thomas, who scored 16 points for MCI. “We’ll know that teams won’t go away in this league, and we’ll be able to play them.”

Led by Thomas and Dustin Smith, the Huskies made nine 3-pointers in the first half. MCI closed the half with a 15-3 run to take a 52-22 lead in to the break.

“I think the key to that was moving the ball. We played inside-out, which is how Coach (Dave Campbell) likes to play. We kicked it out and swung the ball for open shots,” Thomas said.

The Big Red scored the first nine points of the second half, but MCI still had a 25-point lead, 68-43, with 12:30 left in the game. Connor Green hit a free throw to start a 16-0 run by Phillips Exeter. The rally included three 3-pointers, and when Matt Chiusano made a layup with 7:41 to play, MCI’s lead was 68-58.

The Big Red committed 11 turnovers in the first half, but just two in the second.

“This is the first time we’ve really been tested at this level. The thing I was really pleased with the most is, our kids are coachable, they’re buying into what we’re trying to do, and that’s what’s going to make us better,” Phillips Exeter coach Jay Tilton said.

Smith scored nine of his team-high 24 points in the final five minutes to help the Huskies hold off the Big Red’s surge. James Farr had 18 points and 12 rebounds for MCI before fouling out with 2:17 left.

Green led Phillips Exeter with 32 points and eight boards. Braley scored 10 points for the Big Red, while Reggie Perkins added 11, all in the second half.

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

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