READFIELD — If the Black Bears can play at the pace they did Friday night, that five-game losing streak to begin the season will become a distant memory.

Three different players scored in double figures as Maranacook blew things open with a dominant third quarter en route to a 51-31 win over Freeport in a Class B South boys basketball game. Junior forward Silas Mohlar led the Black Bears with 12 points and six rebounds, while senior guard Kyle Wilbur added 11 points. Junior Bryan Riley added life off the bench with 11 points.

Maranacook won its third straight game to improve to 3-5. Freeport fell to 2-5.

“The level at which we were playing — our intensity, our desire and our intelligence — those were the things that really jumped out at me,” Maranacook head coach Rob Schmidt said. “We didn’t have to have one person carry the load tonight, which is the sign of a really good team.”

Maranacook built a 23-13 halftime lead on Mohlar’s hot-shooting touch in the first quarter, but it was after halftime that the Black Bears found their rhythm. They turned turnovers and defensive rebounds into transition buckets, capping the period with a pair of Riley 3-pointers from the left wing to build a 22-point lead.

In all, Maranacook connected on seven field goals from beyond the arc.

“We played defense and went on a good run (in the third quarter),” Riley said. “I’m pretty comfortable coming off the bench. I try to take it in stride and play my game.”

“Bryan’s been in and out of a starting role this year,” Schmidt added. “He really is a starter that we’ve just been bringing off the bench lately. He’s given us a huge lift.”

It proved a difficult night for Freeport, which entered the contest holding onto the final playoff spot in the region. The Falcons turned the ball over 20 times — including 12 times in the first half alone — and connected on just 13 field goals. They endured a nine-minute stretch overlapping the second and third quarters where they only managed three points, all from the free throw line.

Toby Holt and Josh Burke each finished with a team-high seven points.

“It’s key to come out from halftime and put pressure on the other team. That’s when you can win games and lose games,” Mohlar said. “Good offense creates a lot of offensive chances, and defense just wins you games. That’s where it all starts, and our team knows that.”

The big lead through three quarters only grew to start the fourth, as Black Bear senior center Chris Florek poured in a pair of shots in the first minute of the period. Hayden Elwell (six points, four steals) added a layup in transition to make it a 47-21 game, and both coaches emptied their benches over the final six and a half minutes.

For Schmidt, the game all boiled down to the Black Bears’ defensive efforts. They’ve spent the better part of the last two weeks ramping up their intensity level in practice after losing five straight at the start of the year, including three of those by a combined total of four points.

“We figured a few things out,” Schmidt said. “We’ve really taken our game to a new level. We’ve continued to practice very hard and play very hard, but we’re playing smarter and I think that’s the difference.

“The effort is there, but I think we’re being a lot smarter taking care of the ball.”

Travis Barrett — 621-5621

[email protected]

Twitter: @TBarrettGWC

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