FAIRFIELD – Garrett McSweeney provided the fireworks early. Cam Barnes provided them late. And the Skowhegan boys basketball team had no shortage of players ready with some at the end.

The Indians traveled to Lawrence on Friday night and never trailed, defeating the Bulldogs, 57-35, in what was a tour de force from start to finish.

“Before the game, we were just talking about being consistent,” Skowhegan coach Tom Nadeau said. “Offensively, defensively, we’ve been inconsistent throughout the season. And we wanted to be consistent tonight.”

McSweeney led the scoring for Skowhegan, which improved to 6-5, with a game-high 18 points. Mason Cooper led the Bulldogs (2-10) with 13.

“It boosts our confidence a lot,” McSweeney said. “We work hard in practice and our coach pushes us a lot to get to this point, and it’s good to know that practice pays off.”

Skowhegan, with McSweeney leading the way, started hot, taking a 15-4 lead in the opening minutes, but the Cooper-led Bulldogs chipped away enough to trim the gap to five points and a 26-21 halftime deficit.

Lawrence appeared poised to continue the rally in the second half with a Braden Ballard putback to open the third, but it was Barnes’ turn to halt any comeback hopes. The junior guard buried three consecutive 3-pointers, the last falling with 4:37 left in the third, to turn the lead into a 35-25 advantage in a matter of minutes.

“Huge. That’s a confidence-builder,” Nadeau said. “That just gets the energy going. … That really was, I think, the turning point.”

It was Lawrence’s last crack at the lead, as the Bulldogs didn’t get within eight points the remainder of the game.

“When you’re struggling to score points and they’re able to come down and just bang a three, and then they bang another, and then they bang another … that makes it tough,” Bulldogs coach Jason Pellerin said.

Skowhegan broke open the game late in the third and into the fourth quarters, using a proficient transition attack after steals and rebounds to pile onto the lead with easy baskets.

“It’s actually something that we’ve done well for the last year or two,” Nadeau said. “We want to push the ball when it’s there.”

The Indians players took turns adding to the lead late, allowing Marcus Christopher (12 points) and Barnes (11) to join McSweeney in double figures. Skowhegan’s attack was keyed by a rebounding advantage led by Joadel Mora (seven rebounds), McSweeney and Brendan Curran (five each).

“They rebounded really well on the defensive end and we were slightly out of position, maybe somebody crashed or tripped,” Pellerin said. “It just seemed like every play they were able to get a quick outlet.”

Brandon Hill scored six points for Lawrence.

McSweeney had 10 points in the first half as Skowhegan took a 26-21 lead, and was particularly brilliant surging out of the gate as the Indians seized command early. McSweeney was both gritty down low and dangerous from outside, scoring eight points in the first four minutes as Skowhegan jumped out to a quick 15-4 advantage.

Lawrence answered on the ensuing possessions, however, getting 3-pointers from Hill and Cooper to get six points back en route to a 19-13 deficit by the end of the first. The Bulldogs kept pace in the second half as well, opening with a 3-pointer from Ryan Pellerin to cut the deficit to 19-16 and getting four points from Cooper, but Skowhegan kept them from getting within a possession for the rest of the quarter, setting the stage for the Indians’ outburst in the second half.

“We got the win as a team,” McSweeney said, echoing his coach’s words. “Definitely what we needed to have happen. We can’t be inconsistent, and right now we’re showing well.”

Drew Bonifant — 621-5638

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Twitter: @dbonifantMTM