WINSLOW — It wasn’t pretty, but with its gritty 46-43 win over Spruce Mountain the Winslow boys basketball team did make a statement Friday night.

We’re not going away.

The Black Raiders, who learned little more than 24 hours earlier that senior point guard Nason Lanphier had been dismissed from the team for a violation of team rules, got big plays from several contributors down the stretch to emerge from a nip-and-tuck Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference boys basketball game with a key victory at Mansfield Gymnasium.

“We just couldn’t think about it,” senior Justin Martin said of the loss of Lanphier. “Obviously, it’s in the back of our minds, but we just had to not think about it and play as well as we could without him. And we did. We played pretty well.”

“I’m very proud of my guys. I couldn’t be more proud,” added Winslow coach Jared Browne, who declined comment on Lanphier’s dismissal. “There’s not another group of kids that I’d rather coach in the state, the way that they’ve dealt with adversity and the way they stepped up. They’re great kids and they’re great teammates.”

The game was tight throughout. The Black Raiders (12-1) never led by more than five until the final 1:23 and still had to hold off a late Phoenix uprising. Spruce Mountain (8-5) took its largest lead when Deonte Ring’s runner made it 35-32 with 6:49 remaining.

Colby Robertson kicked off a 7-0 Winslow run after that with a drive to the hoop. Martin hit a 3-pointer from the top of the key and Keanu Earle, who took over the starting point guard duties for Lanphier, hit a runner to make it 39-35.

The Phoenix tied it on back-to-back hoops by Anthony York, but Winslow reclaimed the lead for good after Josh Kervin rebounded Robertson’s missed 3-pointer, dribbled to the wing and hit a 3-pointer of his own with just under three minutes left.

“That was really a tough one to overcome. That 3-pointer was the biggest shot of the night,” Spruce Mountain coach Scott Bessey said. “If we get that defensive rebound, it’s a whole different ballgame.”

Robertson’s bucket and two Earle free throws extended the margin to 46-39 with 1:23 to go. The Phoenix rallied when Peter Theriault converted a three-point play, then Ring stole the ball, got fouled and made one of two from the line to make it a three-point game with 44 seconds left.

Winslow missed the front end of a one-and-one to give the Phoenix a chance to tie. Coming out of a timeout with 12.9 seconds to go, Tyler Kachnovich had no choice but to throw up a fadeaway 3-pointer with a Winslow defender in his face as time wound down. It fell short. York collected the rebound but the final buzzer sounded.

“I know they don’t have Lanphier and I know that hurts them, but they’re still a tough-minded team with a good winning tradition,” Bessey said. “There’s a lot of tough kids that are still there.”

“The guys on our roster are all really good players,” Browne said. “We have some depth. It’s just a matter of getting some younger guys some confidence at this point.”

Martin finished with a game-high 16 points along with nine rebounds and three blocked shots. Robertson added 11 points. Earle, a sophomore, finished with six points, four rebounds and three assists in his first varsity start.

“Keanu really stepped up at point guard and just did really well for the position he was put into. I’m proud of him for that,” Martin said.

“I was a little nervous, but I’ve practiced for this my whole two years,” Earle said. “I’ve been working for this hard, so I’m excited.”

York led Spruce Mountain with 12 points and 14 rebounds, while Ring added 11 points.

Trailing 25-23 at halftime, Spruce Mountain came out in a matchup zone to start the third quarter and turned the game into even more of a defensive battle. Both teams combined to shoot 5-for-27 from the floor in the period.

“We’re used to playing fast but they slowed us down a lot,” Earle said. “We listened to coach going over the game plan, moved the ball around and tried to get people open.”

Despite shooting just 3-for-18 in the quarter, the Phoenix managed to gain on the Black Raiders, tying it with a Kachnovich 3-pointer that sent the game into the fourth quarter at 31-31.

The Black Raiders have wins over Maranacook and Spruce since suffering their first loss of the season last Friday at Morse. They have a week off before hosting Gardiner next Friday.

“We know that there are a lot of big (Heal) point games left. We know that we’re a pretty good team,” Browne said. “We’re just going to keep it on the floor. Every time we step between the black lines, we’re going to go as hard as we can and keep this run going.”

Randy Whitehouse — 621-5638

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Twitter: @RAWmaterial33