READFIELD — The first time it played Maine Central Institute, Maranacook had to dig itself out of an early hole to earn a 60-51 road win.

Playing the rematch at home on senior night, the Black Bears wanted the Huskies to be the ones having to do the digging.

Maranacook made nine of 16 3-pointers in a torrid first half of shooting, then held off the pesky Huskies for a 72-58 win Tuesday night.

Senior center Levi Emery led the Black Bears (15-2) inside and outside with 23 points, 12 rebounds and four blocks. Junior guard Kyle Wilbur added 20 points and five 3-pointers off the bench. Tre Grier scored a game-high 27 points for the Huskies (9-8) while Juan Garcia Bango added 13 points and 10 rebounds off the bench.

Coach Rob Schmidt inserted seniors Austin Vining and Ty Smith into the starting lineup for the Black Bears’ final home game and both helped spark their fast start with 3-pointers as they opened a 14-5 lead.

“I was just excited because it was my last senior game, my last on my home court,” Vining said. “I hesitated at first because I’m not normally a starter and I was nervous. But once I got out there, I knew I could shoot and just played my game.”

“Maybe a little bit of Senior Night magic there for a few minutes,” Schmidt said. “We played with a lot of confidence, in the first half especially.”

Wilbur picked up where they left off in the second quarter, knocking down three 3s, while Emery, who gave the Huskies problems in the paint at both ends all night, added a long bomb of his own as the margin widened to 41-29 at halftime.

“I think Levi rose to the occasion. That was one of his best games,” Schmidt said. “We’ve been waiting for him to play like that. It was really nice to see him be aggressive on offense and defense.”

The Black Bears were 15-for-25 overall (60 percent) in the first half.

“All year, we’ve been starting from behind, but it’s finally coming together where we can come out hot in the first quarter,” Emery said. “I think that’s a big thing for us going into the playoffs.”

Kent Mohlar, Maranacook’s leading scorer who had a game-high 28 in the first meeting, went to the bench with his fourth foul and scoreless midway through the third quarter and MCI was able to cut the deficit in half. While the Black Bears (4-for-17) were losing their range, Grier and the Huskies were able to claw back as he hit two 3-pointers and Josh Buker and Carter Pearl each added one to make it 50-44 after three.

Grier cut that margin in half with another 3 early in the fourth quarter. Wilbur answered with a traditional three-point play. But free throws by Grier and a jumper by Garcia Bango pulled the Huskies within 53-51 with 4:51 to go.

“They played us very tough,” Schmidt said. “We knew what we were going to get from them. They’re a very good team and they’re going to be a tough out in the tournament. They’ve got a lot of weapons and when they’re on, they’re real good.”

Mohlar returned to the floor a short time later and, with the Black Bears in the bonus, led a Maranacook procession to the free throw line for the remaining four minutes. He combined with Emery, Wilbur, Jason Brooks and Hayden Elwell to shoot 13-for-17 from the line and MCI managed just one field goal in the final four minutes as the Bears pulled away.

Randy Whitehouse — 621-5631

[email protected]

Twitter: @RAWmaterial33


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