WATERVILLE — Devin Fitzgibbons could start for a good number of girls basketball teams in the state, including her own. Fitzgibbons is also well-suited to the role she has as the first player off the bench, playing starter’s minutes and changing the flow with her instant offense.

On Wednesday evening against Waterville Fitzgibbons scored a game-high 19 points. Even better for the Black Raiders, 10 of those were in the fourth quarter as Winslow came back from six points down with six minutes left to pull out a 56-50 victory.

“I wasn’t shooting very well at the beginning of the game — the first shot was an air ball,” Fitzgibbons said. “But I got back in the groove. I’ve kind of been struggling lately with my three-point shot, but once I get in a groove I can usually do better.”

While Winslow (9-6) and Waterville (4-11) have dissimilar records, the game was important to both teams. Winslow is trying to secure a home preliminary round game, and actually isn’t that far out of fourth place in Eastern B. Waterville, meanwhile, is hoping to hang on to one of the region’s playoff spots.

Winslow typically plays rock-solid defense, but on this night Waterville countered with its offense. Fotini Shanos scored Waterville’s first eight points, and it seemed every time Winslow hit a 3-pointer, Waterville freshman Madison Foster came back and swished a three at the other end. Foster finished with the impressive stat line of 14 points on six field goal attempts and one free throw attempt.

“I think my freshmen played well,” Waterville coach Rob Rodrigue said. “My freshmen gave me some great minutes. That’s a good basketball team, and we compete with most teams.”

Both teams shot well, and Winslow effectively rotated away from Waterville’s pressure to get open threes from the corners and wings. The difference was that Winslow had the game’s best pure rebounder in sophomore Heather Kervin (18 points, 10 rebounds). Kervin made all eight of her free throws in the first half and Winslow led 36-31 at the break. Raiders coach Lindsey Welch was pleased with the 36, but not so much the 31.

“We gave up (31) points at halftime, and that’s not our defense,” Welch said. “We talked about, if we play defense everything else will fall into place.”

Winslow point guard Delaney Wood and Waterville’s Jordan Jabar (15 points) both missed much of the second half with foul trouble, but the teams continued to play evenly. There was a wild sequence in the final minute of the third quarter when Winslow was on a 2-on-1 fast break and Fitzgibbons made a beautiful touch pass to Kervin, but Kervin got a bad bounce and missed the layup. Kervin got her own rebound and missed the follow, and down at the other end, Foster banked in a shot while being fouled and falling out of bounds. Her three-point play tied the score at 41 entering the fourth quarter.

Waterville quickly got out in front, 46-41, on a cutting layup by Shanos and a three by Jabar. With the Purple Panthers leading 47-41, Fitzgibbons and Kervin teamed up on another crucial sequence. Kervin was fouled while scoring, but missed the free throw. Alyssa Wood tracked down the rebound for Winslow and Fitzgibbons ended up knocking down a 3-pointer for a five-point possession. One minute later, Fitzgibbons dropped in another three to make it 49-47 and give Winslow the lead for good.

“I really like having (Devin) coming off the bench,” Welch said. “I was watching a college basketball game a while ago, and the commentator said, ‘The sixth man can make or break you.’ I’m very confident with our sixth man that she makes us every time.”

Waterville missed a few game-tying 3-pointers in the final minutes and the Black Raiders wrapped up the win by twice getting rebounds off their own missed free throws in the final 30 seconds. With games against Nokomis, Gardiner and Spruce Mountain to close out the regular season, the points are there for Waterville to secure a playoff spot.

“I think we gotta win one of ’em,” Rodrigue said.

Matt DiFilippo — 861-9243

[email protected]

Twitter: @Matt_DiFilippo


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