Now in the third season under head coach Tom Nadeau, the Skowhegan Area High School boys basketball team is showing signs of improvement. At 6-6, the Indians are fighting for a playoff spot in Class A North, and have as many wins this season as the previous two seasons combined.

“We’re at the point now where we’re competitive with some of the top teams. We’re just looking for that signature win,” Nadeau said after Monday’s 48-42 loss to Messalonskee.

Skowhegan is in seventh place in the region, just over a point behind Waterville for sixth. The teams will play each other next Tuesday at Waterville in a game that could determine who gets a bye to the regional quarterfinals, and who will have to play a preliminary round game. The top six teams in Class A North will move directly to the Augusta Civic Center and the quarters.

Skowhegan’s remaining regular-season schedule also includes games with rival Lawrence on Saturday, as well as top-ranked Hampden, Gardiner, Mt. Blue and Mount View. The mental part of the game is where Nadeau would like to see his team improve the rest of the way.

“We need to be a little more mentally tough in practice, so that it translates into games. Right now, we’re just battling ourselves on the mental toughness part,” Nadeau said. “We’ve had key contributions from a lot of guys. “Each and every night, it’s someone different.”

• • •

At 10-3 with five games to play in the regular season, Madison is a good bet to make the Class C South playoffs. No matter where the Bulldogs end up seeded, they’ll be battle tested once the postseason begins.

Along with Friday’s trip to Rumford to take on Class B Mountain Valley, Madison has games with Winthrop (11-2), Monmouth (8-5), Wiscasset (10-3) and Boothbay (9-4), four teams ahead of the Bulldogs in the regional standings. Madison sits in seventh place, a point ahead of Old Orchard Beach.

“We’ve got five big games coming up,” Madison coach Jason Furbush said. “We need to continue to improve every day.”

Despite the team’s solid record, Furbush said it’s only been over the last few weeks that he’s seen the Bulldogs begin to come together.

“The last couple of weeks, our team chemistry’s gotten better. Our record doesn’t show it, but the first half of the season we didn’t play very well,” Furbush said.

Senior Chase Malloy and junior Mitch Jarvais have been keys to Madison’s offense, while senior Chris Beaman has been a sparkplug off the bench for the Bulldogs. Sophomore guard Sean Whalen also has played well, Furbush said.

The challenge in preparing for these final five opponents is, they each play a different style, Furbush said. Mountain Valley can be tough when it’s shooting well, Furbush said. Winthrop plays with strong defensive intensity, while Wiscasset’s size makes the Wolverines a tough matchup. Monmouth is adept at slowing the pace and controlling the game, and Boothbay is one of the most well-coached teams in the state.

With these games, Furbush expects the Mountain Valley Conference and Class C South standings to change a lot between now and the tournament.

“There’s six or seven teams that can really contend on any night,” Furbush said. “I think the Heal points will be like a roller coaster.”

• • •

There are a couple big games in the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class A division this weekend, that will be keys to playoff positioning.

Friday night, No. 2 Brewer (11-1) plays at No. 3 Messalonskee (9-4). When these teams met in Brewer in December, the Witches took a 56-51 win. Also on Friday, No. 4 Oceanside (9-4) plays at No. 5 Medomak Valley (9-3), and No. 8 Cony (5-8) plays at No. 9 Lawrence (5-7) in another rematch of a close game earlier this season. Cony defeated Lawrence, 56-52, earlier this month.

On Saturday, Lawrence plays at Skowhegan in another game with playoff implications. As of Thursday afternoon, the bottom five teams holding playoff spots — Waterville, Skowhegan, Cony, Lawrence and Gardiner — were separated by just six points in the Heal point standings.

• • •

Around the state: With Dirigo’s loss to Winthrop on Wednesday, only three undefeated teams remain: Hampden (Class A North), George Stevens Academy (Class C North) and Valley (Class D South)… Speaking of Valley, the Cavaliers have all but wrapped up the top seed in the Class D South tournament. Valley holds a 42 point lead over second place Pine Tree Academy… The race for the top seed in Class B North could come down to the final game of the regular season, Old Town at Orono. Old Town (11-2) currently holds a slim two-point lead over Orono (12-2) for the top spot. When these teams met earlier this month, Old Town took a 65-53 win… The top spot in Class AA North appears to be between Deering (12-1) and Portland (12-1). Portland took a 61-51 win over its crosstown rival last week. The rematch is scheduled for next Friday.

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM

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