NEWPORT — For the second time this season, the Skowhegan and Nokomis high school boys basketball teams played a tight game. And for the second time it was Skowhegan that prevailed.

Marcus Christopher’s putback of a missed free throw with 11 seconds left in overtime gave the Indians the lead for good, and Skowhegan took a 51-50 Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference win. Skowhegan improved to 6-3, while Nokomis dropped to 4-5.

“We’ve been fortunate. Both times we came ready to play. They’re a good team, and both games have been grind-it-out games. I told the boys in pregame it was going to be another grind-out game,” Skowhegan coach Tom Nadeau said.

Down 47-45 with 15 seconds left in overtime, Skowhegan’s Cam Barnes went to the line with the chance to tie the game. Barnes made the first, but missed the second. Christopher was able to secure the offensive rebound, and instead of going for the tip in, was able to sink the layup for a 48-47 lead.

“That’s a move I’ve worked on so much, it’s just kind of become habit on free throws to spin off a guy and try and get an easy bucket,” Christopher, who led Skowhegan with 20 points, said.

After an intentional foul was called on Nokomis’ Andrew Haining with 5.1 seconds left, Cole Pierce made a pair of foul shots to push Skowhegan’s lead to 50-47. A Christopher free throw with 4 seconds left gave the Indians a four-point lead. Zach Hartsgrove’s 3-pointer at the buzzer pulled the Warriors within a point, but with no time remaining.

“We didn’t do a great job of pinching on Christopher, and he’s a big, strong kid,” Nokomis coach Ryan Martin said of Christopher’s game-winning rebound and putback. “He’s going to win a lot of those battles, and he did. You’ve got to give him credit for making that play.”

The teams traded the lead throughout the game, and Skowhegan led 38-34 with five minutes to play in regulation. The Indians then committed turnovers on four straight possessions. The Warriors turned each turnover into points, and suddenly had a 41-38 lead with 3:13 to play.

“We were just trying to move it too fast. They were pressuring us a little bit and sometimes we don’t exactly like pressure. Coach called a timeout and told us to settle down,” Christopher said.

A key to the comeback was regaining mental focus, Nadeau said.

“There were multiple times we could’ve folded, and we didn’t,” Nadeau said.

With just over three minutes left, Hartsgrove was hit with a technical foul after it appeared all he did was dive out of bounds going for a loose ball. Martin said the official’s explanation for the technical foul was he saw Hartsgrove hit the bleachers in disgust. Pierce hit one of the free throws for Skowhegan, cutting the Nokomis lead to 41-39. Barnes tied it a minute later with a layup, then gave Skowhegan a 43-41 lead with 49 seconds left, taking a pass from Christopher for the open layup.

Hartsgrove (23 points) hit a jumper with 35 seconds left in the fourth, tying the game and sending it to overtime.

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM

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