WINSLOW — Neither Spencer Miranda nor Keanu Earle — the senior backcourt tandem for the Winslow High School boys basketball team — has eye-popping stats. Between the two of them, they average around 22 points per game. What makes Miranda and Earle a formidable duo doesn’t show up in the Black Raiders side of the box score each game. Often, it’s what doesn’t show up in the opponents’ game line.

On Thursday, Earle and Miranda traded off defending Maranacook sharpshooter Kyle Wilbur, holding Wilbur to 11 points in a 20-point Winslow win. On Tuesday, they drew their toughest defensive assignment so far this season, Lawrence’s Mason Cooper. In a double overtime Winslow win, Earle and Miranda held Cooper to 19 points.

“That was the toughest 19 (Cooper’s) probably going to see all year,” Winslow coach Jared Browne said. “It’s our team defense that’s doing it for us, and it’s those guys leading our team defense.”

With Miranda and Earle providing leadership on and off the court, the Black Raiders are off to an 8-0 start, heading into Saturday’s big Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference game at Spruce Mountain (9-1).

Miranda and Earle said they’ve played basketball together since early in grade school. That familiarity shows up on the court.

“We’ve been playing together a long time. We’ve definitely developed that chemistry. We know where each other is going to be on the court at all times. It really makes the game a lot easier when you know you can rely on a person like that, that you’ve grown up playing with,” Miranda said.

Earle fist joined Winslow’s starting lineup two years ago, midway through his sophomore season. That Black Raider team was led by a strong senior class, and eventually reached the regional championship game.

“That was an experience for me, coming into a really good team with a lot of expectations. I just had to step up and make plays,” Earle said.

Earle learned just before the tip of a game against Spruce Mountain he would be starting.

“We had to throw him into a difficult situation. He handled it outstandingly. He was in the rotation, but he wasn’t a go-to guy, he was a role player,” Browne said. “He played great. A little winded, but once he got his confidence down, he hit some shots. He made some plays.”

Browne saw the senior leaders that season — Justin Martin, Colby Robertson, and Josh Kervin — take Earle under their wing. Browne is convinced that shaped how Earle and Miranda, along with Winslow’s other seniors, approach the younger players on this season’s squad.

“The veteran guys knew that was their last go of it, and they needed him to contribute. They helped him as much as they possibly could. They were positive with him, and you can see that with him now with our younger guys. He’s doing the same thing for them,” Browne said.

This season, Earle averages eight points and five assists per game. Miranda averages a team-high 14 points per game, continuing the offensive revelation he became as a junior. Miranda estimates he grew a foot between his sophomore and junior seasons. Now 6-foot-1, Miranda size’s finally caught up to his skill.

“(Miranda) always had the skills. He always was fundamentally solid, always a good shooter. He could now get that shot off over taller defenders. He was lighting it up in practice, so we said we’ve got to get him in a game. We put him into game situations and he became our leading scorer last year and second team all-conference,” Browne said.

“Once I realized I was taller and bigger, I knew I could play,” Miranda said. “I started working on my skills, hoping I would get a chance. Coach Browne gave me that chance, and I’ve been trying to run with it.”

Miranda is shooting 39 percent (24 of 62) from 3-point range, but doesn’t see himself as an offensive catalyst for the Black Raiders.

“Everybody is a threat. We all play defense as a team. We have defensive stoppers. On the offensive end, everybody scores. It’s not just one person putting up big numbers every night. It’s a team contribution,” Miranda said.

To Browne, the impact of Earle and Miranda will continue to be felt in the Winslow basketball program in the coming seasons, too.

“During the summer we do optional ball-handling and shooting workouts every morning. Those guys were the leaders. They showed up just about every day, and were great with the younger guys like Colby Pomeroy and Justin LaFlamme, guys that are going to step up and take their place next year, they’re mentoring those guys,” Browne said. “When they go, hopefully we don’t skip a beat, because their leadership has been outstanding. They’ve taught these guys how to be varsity basketball players.”

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM

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