WATERVILLE — Ciara LeClair was in a shooting cold streak, like all her teammates on the Winslow High School girls basketball team. But with Waterville inching closer, cutting a 10-point deficit to one with just under two minutes to play, LeClair knew she had to keep shooting.

“Coach (Lindsey Withee) said someone had to hit a big shot,” LeClair said. “They weren’t falling. I didn’t think it was going to go in.”

LeClair’s baseline three late in the fourth quarter bounced off the rim twice before finally falling through the cylinder. The shot gave the Black Raiders a four-point lead with 1:57 to play, and helped them hang on for a 27-24 win over rival Waterville. Both teams are now 2-1.

The Purple Panthers switched things up defensively, going from their usual 2-3 zone to a 1-3-1.

“It’s just a different look. They’re a good basketball team, so you try to make them hiccup, shoot the ball and think about it,” Waterville coach Rob Rodrigue said. “They’ve done a good job the past years really kind of dissecting our 2-3. You can only change it so many times. We play them twice a year. We just had to do something a little different.”

The zone worked perfectly, pushing the Black Raiders to the perimeter. Early, Winslow made those shots, sinking four 3-pointers in the first half to take a 19-11 lead into the break.

“Coming off the MCI game (a 51-36 loss), where we struggled to shoot the ball, we had a good practice last night,” Withee said. “Coach Rodrigue did a good job adjusting. Usually they’re in a 2-3 (zone), and they came out in a 1-3-1. We didn’t really prepare for that. They did a great job defensively.”

In the second half, Winslow went cold. The Black Raiders didn’t score in a seven-minute span, and in that time Waterville cut a 10-point deficit to one. Alyssa Drew’s free throw with 2:23 to play pulled the Panthers to within, 23-22.

“I think a couple players got frustrated but we’ve always been shooting no matter what. If they don’t fall, go to the rim,” LeClair said.

Waterville had 33 rebounds to Winslow’s 25. As well as things went defensively for the Panthers, they never could find a rhythm at the offensive end. Along with its own shooting woes, Waterville had 29 turnovers.

“I told my kids before the game, if we out-rebounded them, we’re going to beat them. I just had to tell my kids I lied to them. We only put up 24 points. You’re not going to win any games doing that,” Rodrigue said. Certainly our defensive stuff was there. Our kids got to their rotations. Mackenzie St. Pierre did a nice job at the bottom of that zone, really scooting baseline to baseline.”

Jordan Jabar led Waterville with 14 points and 12 rebounds. LeClair, who added a foul shot with 1:35 to play to push Winslow’s lead to five points, led the Black Raiders with 10 points, including three 3-pointers.

“It’s just a matter of getting back into that routine of having practice and getting shots up. They’ll start falling,” Withee said. “I can tell you tomorrow we’ll be doing a lot of shooting drills.”

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM

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