OAKLAND — Messalonskee is living up to its preseason billing as the team to beat in Class A North.

Thursday night, the Eagles ran their record to 9-0 with a convincing 70-49 victory over Lawrence. A year ago, the Eagles were the team trying to catch Lawrence, but with nearly everyone back from last year’s 15-win team, those roles are reversed. Not that the Eagles are providing any bulletin board material.

“We’ve still got to take it one game at a time,” said senior Sophie Holmes, who scored a game-high 19 points. “We still haven’t played Skowhegan, Gardiner and Nokomis. Until then we can’t say much.”

The Eagles stymied the Bulldogs guard tandem of Hunter Mercier and Morgan Boudreau with bigger players. Makayla Wilson stuck with Mercier and held her to four points, while 5-foot-11 point guard Ally Turner blanketed Boudreau.

“They’ve got too much size,” said Lawrence coach John Donato, whose team fell to 5-5. “We couldn’t penetrate. We couldn’t get the ball into the offense and we got beat back a few times. They had a lead and we couldn’t cut into it.”

The Eagles led 24-14 at the end of the first quarter which culminated with Boudreau’s 30-footer at the buzzer. The Eagles stretched the lead to 40-26 at the half behind Holmes, Wilson (13 points) and Emily Parent, who scored all five of her points in the second quarter.

“We played really well as a team,” Wilson said. “Our defense and offense worked really well tonight. We definitely played better as a team tonight than the last time we played them (a 39-33 win).”

The Eagles played all 10 players and got results from nearly everyone. Senior McKenna Brodeur anchors the low post, and they can bring 6-1 freshman Gabrielle Wener off the bench.

“We generally go nine (deep),” Messalonskee coach Keith Derosby said. “And they’re smart. We can put things in on the fly and make adjustments when we need to. We can afford to take some chances sometimes.”

The Bulldogs stayed in touch behind junior Camryn Caldwell, who scored a game-high 14 points, including four 3-pointers. Mercier and Boudreau (10) closed the third quarter with hoops to make it 40-26, but the Eagles had an answer for every run. Brodeur, who scored 12 points and went 8 for 8 from the foul line, scored four points in the third quarter and Turner added four more as Messalonskee maintained its lead.

“Overall we played a full complete four quarters, offensively and defensively,” Holmes said. “Like coach says, we can take any five and be comfortable putting them in at any time.”

The Eagles put the game away in the fourth as Holmes hit her only 3 of the night to push the lead to 59-38.

“We play hard but what I think we’ve got to do is make better decisions offensively,” Donato said. “We’re going to be all right. You don’t want to play us in the tournament because I think we’re going to get better.”

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