The Winslow girls basketball team opened the season with wins against Maine Central Institute and Morse. The Black Raiders, who upset Gardiner in the preliminary round last season to reach the Eastern B quarterfinals, were able to continue to play strong defense. Winslow allowed under 30 points in both games.

Given MCI’s struggles in recent years, the 32-29 final score was closer than many people expected. Winslow coach Lindsey Welch said it was a combination of MCI’s improvement and Winslow not playing well over the final three quarters.

“Coming out against MCI, I thought we played the best first quarter we played in a long time,” Welch said. “Then we kind of just coasted. Having said that, the girls finished the game from the free throw line.”

Against Morse, Winslow had foul trouble in the first half and led by only two at the break before pulling away to win by 20.

Freshman Heather Kervin led Winslow in scoring in both games. Kervin played only about 90 seconds in the first half of the Morse game before sitting out the rest of the half with two fouls. She returned to score 12 points in about a quarter and a half.

“She’s about 5-6, 5-7, and just physical,” Welch said. “She’s not very tall, but she works her butt off. She’s very coachable, and has really stepped up and proven that she can play at this level.”

Welch said everyone else on the floor is playing solid basketball. The Raiders play tonight at Oceanside.

“(That) will be our true test,” Welch said.

• • •

Rangeley is 2-0 after victories over Richmond and Hyde. Lakers coach Heidi Deery put a renewed emphasis on defense in preseason, and Rangeley allowed a total of 23 field goals in the two games.

“A lot of people are getting time,” Deery said. “Even in the first two quarters, I’m going to my bench more, and demanding that, in order for them to continue to get playing time, they have to perform defensively.”

Offensively, Rangeley played well, but Deery is still looking for the Lakers to get better. She added that the Lakers are concentrating more on what they need to do to be the kind of team they want to be, rather than what other teams are doing.

“We turned the ball over a lot,” she said. “I guess it’s typical of the beginning of the season, but it’s something we’re certainly focusing on.”

Senior guard Tori Letarte scored 35 points and totaled 10 steals in the two games, and appears to be establishing herself as a leader.

“I definitely think that is the case,” Deery said. “She just has a new kind of determination and focus, for herself and the team.”

• • •

Valley is also off to a 2-0 start and winning with its defense. The Cavaliers squeaked by Buckfield, 26-22, and held off Greenville, 32-20.

“We’re getting better,” first-year Valley coach Paul Belanger said. “We played pretty solid defense. Offensively, we’re getting good shots. They’re just not going in. We are young. I’m playing three freshmen a lot, and three sophomores are getting a good amount of playing time.”

Belanger, who also coaches the baseball team at Valley, said the defensive performance is in large part because the players have bought into his insistence on help-side defense.

“We’re not giving up uncontested layups,” he said. “My main focus has been defense, because even if you’re having a bad night offensively, you still have a chance.”

The Cavaliers have had balanced scoring so far. Against Buckfield, five players scored, and all five had between four and seven points. Belanger said the team’s scoring output has been going up by a few points every game, and he’d like that to continue to the point where the Cavaliers can score 45-50 points consistently.

Matt DiFilippo — 861-9243[email protected]Twitter: @Matt_DiFilippo

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