WATERVILLE — Winslow hadn’t used a press all season, and Waterville really hadn’t faced one.

So when the Black Raiders started using a mix of fullcourt and halfcourt pressure and traps late in the third quarter to try to whittle down an 11-point deficit, it added a twist to what was already shaping up to be an unexpected turn in the rivalry.

Winslow rattled the Purple Panthers enough to pull within two with 1:20 to go, but Waterville hung on to end its guest’s hopes to go into the Christmas break with a perfect record.

Justin Kornsey (16 points, 11 rebounds) and Devon Begin (13 points, 13 rebounds) registered double-doubles to help Waterville hold on for a 44-38 win over Winslow on Tuesday night.

Waterville, which lost to the Black Raiders, 48-43, 11 days earlier, improved to 2-4 and gave itself a big boost in the Class A North Heal points standings. Winslow dropped to 5-1. Dylan Hutchinson led the Black Raiders with 13 points.

“We knew we could play with them,” Kornsey said. “We used our size and rebounding. They’re a very fast team. They like to get up and down. We’re a bigger team and we needed to slow it down and take advantage of our strengths.”

The Black Raiders wisely decided to speed things up after Spencer Miranda hit a 3-pointer to make it 30-22 with two minutes left in the third. Winslow coach Jared Browne sent them out of a timeout and into a fullcourt press.

It didn’t pay immediate dividends as Waterville’s Devin Lebrun hit a 3-pointer from the top of the key just before the buzzer to give Waterville a 35-23 lead heading into the fourth. But the Black Raiders, who shot 24 percent on the night, got more aggressive at both ends of the floor in the final quarter. The defensive pressure kept the Panthers from feeding the ball inside and forced eight turnovers in the quarter.

“We saw it all last year, but this year, we haven’t really seen it yet,” Waterville coach Nick Pelotte said. “It’s the first time we’ve seen it live and not in practice in maybe two or three weeks and you could tell. I’ve just got to do a better job of drilling it with the kids and trying to explain it. But Jared did a good job. Every time we called a timeout to try to figure some things out, he’d change it up.”

Waterville, which shot 10-for-17 in the second half, still led by 10 with 3:51 remaining. But Winslow ran off six straight points over the next two minutes, capped by a Justin Burgher 3-pointer, to make it 40-36.

Burgher forced a steal, then hit two free throws for the final two of his eight points in the quarter to make it 40-38 with 1:20 left.

“From about seven minutes to three or even two minutes (left), we were just content with passing the ball,” Pelotte said. “It doesn’t matter what kind of press they’ve got on you or who they’re trapping, if you never look at the rim, the only thing you’re going to do is turn it over eventually.”

Pelotte told his team to attack and Begin followed his instructions, taking a pass along the baseline and driving to the hoop for two to make it 42-38 with 58 seconds remaining. Waterville rebounded a Winslow 3-pointer that was short and Begin drilled two free throws to seal it.

“We knew we’d settle down. We’ve got a lot of seniors, some veterans that are really mature to slow the game down,” Kornsey said.

The Black Raiders led 13-10 after 10 nip-and-tuck minutes at the start. The Purple Panthers didn’t score in the second period until about midway through. But Begin’s baseline jumper sparked a 10-2 run to end the half and give them a 20-15 lead.

“We didn’t come out with the fire, the energy, the intensity we needed,” Browne said. “We didn’t make anything happen offensively, and we shot terrible. And credit to their defense.”

“They weren’t able to get much at the rim, and that was important,” Pelotte said.

Randy Whitehouse — 621-5638

[email protected]

Twitter: @RAWmaterial33

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