PITTSFIELD — The Maranacook Community High School boys basketball team features one of the most dynamic scorers in Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class B, Kent Mohlar. The 6-foot-3 senior got his points (28) Friday night at Maine Central Institute but it was a defensive adjustment that was the key for the Black Bears in their 60-51 victory.

Maranacook improved to 9-1, while MCI dropped to 3-7.

Down eight points to the Huskies after the first quarter and still trailing by three at the half, Maranacook coach Rob Schmidt decided to go exclusively with a zone defense in the second half. The move worked.

After MCI committed just five turnovers in the first half, the Huskies had 10 in the second half, as the Black Bears took the lead for good with an 8-0 run to close the third quarter.

“We decided we weren’t doing a good job in man-to-man. Our help side defense wasn’t very good and they were really beating us off the dribble, with a few back door cuts in the first half. We decided to go straight zone in the second half,” Schmidt said.

When Maranacook was in man-to-man early, the Huskies offense found a rhythm. MCI closed the first quarter with nine straight points to take a 19-11 lead, its largest lead of the game.

Although Maranacook tied the game at 26-26 on a Ty Smith layup with 1:48 left in the second, the Huskies still led 31-28 at halftime.

“They came out early hot. They came out shooting the ball well. They kept that going and we knew at halftime we had to switch it up,” Mohlar said.

In the second half, the Black Bears defense met the Huskies with halfcourt pressure, and that kept MCI from finding whatever worked in the first half.

Mohlar scored 10 of his game-high 28 points in the third quarter, including eight over a six-minute stretch to help the Black Bears take a 43-35 lead into the fourth.

“We pulled our zone back a little so we could have more opportunities for traps over the halfcourt line,” Schmidt said. “(Mohlar’s) a gamer. When the game’s on the line and he knows it, nobody’s going to out-work him. His effort and his athleticism, I don’t know who else can play at that level.”

Added MCI coach Josh Tardy: “We looked good when we broke (the pressure) and we looked confused when we didn’t, and that’s just how it goes sometimes. To Maranacook’s credit, they stepped it up on pressure. They figured out what we were doing. We were getting into our comfort zone and they made us uncomfortable.”

MCI did not fade away. Tre Grier (23 points) sank his fifth 3-pointer of the game with 3:31 to play to cut Maranacook’s lead to 48-47, but six straight points for Kyle Wilbur (18 points), sandwiched around a few more Huskies turnovers, put the Black Bears out of reach.

“From our standpoint, we’re happy that we competed for all 32 minutes. One of our Achilles (heels) all season has been, what happens when we take a punch. I think we proved tonight we can take some punches and come back,” Tardy said.

Levi Emery had 10 rebounds for Maranacook.

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM

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