WINSLOW — Last season, Winslow won 14 games while Maine Central Institute won two. Yet, the way the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class B is this season, even that matchup produces a game that goes down to the final minute.

“We went and scouted them when they played Maranacook, and we knew it was going to be a dogfight,” Winslow coach Lindsey Welch said. “We had the advantage of being at home, and we were fortunate there, but every night’s going to be a dogfight in the KVAC.”

Winslow held on for a 45-39 girls basketball victory Friday night, and free throws were the difference. The Black Raiders were 13 of 19 from the line, while MCI was 2 of 8.

“First game, Maranacook, wasn’t pretty. We were (1 for 7),” Welch said. “Every game, we’ve gotten better. Obviously, that wins games.”

“Against Maranacook, we didn’t hit free throws. Our offense was really rushed,” said Winslow sophomore Heather Kervin, who had 14 points and eight rebounds Friday. “But now we’ve learned to slow it down and be able to adjust to the other team’s pace, and just play our own game.”

Ciara LeClair added 11 points for Winslow (3-2) while freshman April McAlpine led MCI with 17. The Huskies now stand at 1-4 but played evenly with Winslow for most of the game, and trailed 19-15 at halftime.

An even better sign for MCI was what happened after Alyssa Wood hit back-to-back 3-pointers and LeClair knocked down a three of her own to give Winslow a 30-20 lead midway through the third quarter. The Huskies were teetering on the edge of being blown out, but fought back with the help of banked-in 3-pointers by McAlpine and Sydney Morton — both freshmen — to get within 34-28 at the end of the third quarter.

“We’ve been getting down, and then not coming back, so that was nice to see tonight,” MCI coach Wes Brann said. “We can go away or we can get back in, and the kids did a nice job of digging in.”

With McAlpine on the bench with four fouls, Winslow again opened up a lead at 38-29 with under six minutes to go. The Huskies scrapped back with a 7-1 run, and made it 39-36 on a long 3-pointer by Ashley Alton. The pack of MCI fans reacted with so much noise that Welch screamed for a timeout for nearly 10 seconds before getting the attention of an official.

Winslow got its timeout with 2:36 left, and after that, the Black Raiders spent the game playing keep-away and sinking their foul shots. Kervin, Delaney Wood, and Devin Fitzgibbons combined to go 6 for 8 from the line in the final 2:19. The Huskies had to rush their shots, and didn’t score again until McAlpine banked in a three just before the buzzer.

“They shoot their free throws well,” Brann said. “She had some great free-throw shooters at the end. Who are you going to foul?”

Winslow has now played five games, and all five have been decided by 10 points or less. MCI has now faced four straight tough opponents, and has games with Leavitt, Oceanside, and Camden Hills coming up before the end of the calendar year.

“The girls have played some good basketball,” Brann said. “We’ve got to put four quarters together, like we did tonight.”

Matt DiFilippo — 861-9243

[email protected]

Twitter: @Matt_DiFilippo