SOUTH CHINA — Skowhegan’s young athletic group of sophomores is off to a quick start.

Thursday against Erskine, the Indians ran and pressed and made quick work of the host Eagles in a Class A North girls basketball contest. After a slow start, the Indians pulled away in the second period and cruised to a 60-25 win.

The Indians, who started five sophomores, improved to 3-0 while Erskine fell to 0-3.

Skowhegan struggled a little in the first quarter against the Eagles 2-3 zone but its defense held Erskine to just two free throws. The Indians forced 14 turnovers in the first half through a combination of a full-court zone press and tough man-to-man defense in the half-court.

“That’s the first time we pressed,” Skowhegan coach Mike LeBlanc said.

It proved effective. Sydney Ames opened the second quarter with a 3-pointer from the top of the circle followed by a free throw and two straight layups off turnovers that made it 19-4 and prompted an Erskine timeout.

“That’s an aspect we have to work on is handling the pressure,” Erskine coach Mitch Donar said. “Knowing our guards are primarily younger, we’re going to see more of that in the future. It’s really tough to get into a flow when we’re consistently turning the ball over.”

The Indians, who return three starters from a year ago, continued to pour it on. Sydney Reed drilled a 3-pointer from the top of the circle and Annie Cooke followed with a three-point play to make it 25-5. Mariah Dunbar added a layup to make it 27-5 at the half.

“We’re still working on it but we’re climbing,” said Ames, who finished with nine points.

The Eagles played man-to-man and pressed full court in the second half in an effort to get something started. They forced three turnovers and scored eight points in the third quarter but couldn’t match the Indians’ speed and athleticism. Ames (nine points), Cooke (10) and Dunbar opened the second half with hoops as seven different players scored in the quarter. Sophie Brewer scored a layup at the buzzer to make it 44-13.

Lindsey Warren, the team’s only junior — there are no seniors — scored all nine of her points in the quarter for the Indians.

“I think we’re right about where we should be,” LeBlanc said. “They’re just athletic.”

Ally Bonsant paced the Eagles with six points and six rebounds.


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