SKOWHEGAN — With so many competitive teams vying for the top spot in the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference in the season’s second half, Skowhegan coach Mike LeBlanc figures every night will be a battle.

Tuesday night at Finley Gym was no exception. The Indians shot well in stretches, flustered Nokomis with a strong defensive effort and cemented their spot in the top two in the Class A North standings with a 53-32 win over the Warriors. Eight of the nine players on the Skowhegan roster scored, with slick-shooting guards Emma Duffy (11 points) and Sydney Ames (10 points) leading the way.

“There’s probably five teams going for the top four spots, and we have to battle every night,” LeBlanc said. “Every night’s going to be a battle, but we’ll be well-tested going into the playoffs.”

After a sloppy start for both teams to the night, as they combined for only five first-quarter field goals and 12 points in all. Skowhegan (7-2) found its shooting touch early in the second period, though, ignited by one of Duffy’s three 3-pointers on the night in the final minute of the first. Duffy’s bucket kicked off a 15-1 run, in which the Indians connected from beyond the 3-point arc on five of seven consecutive trips down the floor, to open up a 20-5 Skowhegan lead that Nokomis (4-5) could not recover from.

The Warriors lost their fourth straight.

“I want to say that it’s a lack of confidence and a lack of trust in our team and in our coaching staff,” a frustrated Nokomis coach Michelle Paradis said. “Not everybody’s bought in yet. Everyone has to buy in or our season’s not going to get any better.”

Alyssa Everett started the key sequence for Skowhegan, grabbing a loose ball off an errant pass in the paint and kicking it out for Ames — who made the first of her two 3-pointers 50 seconds apart. Mariah Dunbar stepped out to the left corner and made another less than half a minute later, as the Indians’ lead began to balloon with under five and a half minutes remaining in the first half.

“Offensively, we played pretty well,” LeBlanc said. “We matched up pretty well and played good half-court defense against them, and I think that’s what made it ugly.”

Freshman Maya Cooney’s bucket as time was set to expire before halftime pulled Nokomis to within 26-13 at halftime, and the Warriors held Skowhegan without a field goal for the first six minutes of the third quarter. Any hope they had of closing the gap after halftime disappeared with five straight turnovers of their own to start the period.

A quick 6-0 run late in the quarter, anchored by Dunbar’s rebound and putback, put the Indians ahead 39-16 through 24 minutes.

“We’re patient and can look for open and good shots,” said Dunbar, who finished with nine points and seven rebounds. “It makes us more confident in the offense, knowing we can pull it out if we work harder.”

“It can be (frustrating),” Ames said of facing a scrappy defense like Nokomis. “Our team’s pretty good about blocking that stuff out. We huddle and talk at halftime and talk about blocking it out, not dealing with it and ignoring it.”

Nokomis scored 16 in the final period — exactly half of its total offensive output for the night. Chelsea Crockett finished with 11 points, and Maci Leali added 10. Junior center Gabrielle Lord had two points and 10 rebounds for the Warriors, her inside presence helping ensure that Skowhegan wouldn’t have a better offensive output on the night.

“We shoot pretty sporadically at times,” LeBlanc said.

Travis Barrett — 621-5621

[email protected]

Twitter: @TBarrettGWC

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