PITTSFIELD — For one quarter at least, the Maine Central Institute girls basketball team had everything going for it — inside presence, shooting touch from outside, quick transition and smothering defense. And that one quarter was all the Huskies needed Thursday night to knock Winslow from the ranks of the unbeaten.

Sophomore Sara Linkletter scored all nine of her points in the third quarter as part of a 15-0 run that handed MCI the lead for the final time en route to a 48-31 win over Winslow in a Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference game at Wright Gym.

“I hate to say it, but we’re kind of a second-half team,” said MCI senior guard Sydney Morton, who finished with a game-high 15 points. “I believe in my teammates. We work hard, and by halftime I usually know it’s going to kick in for us. I have no doubt.”

The teams slogged through an ugly first half, one which could be gently described as “a defensive struggle.” The Huskies (8-2) were held scoreless for the first four and a half minutes of the night and made just one shot from the floor over the final 6:30 of the second quarter. Winslow (7-1), meanwhile, connected on just four first-half field goals as part of an opening 16 minutes that saw the two teams combine to shoot just 20.4 percent (10 for 49) from the floor while turning the ball over a combined 17 times.

MCI went into the break with a 16-13 advantage, which revealed nothing to imply an outburst was coming from either team.

“We just didn’t really execute our game plan,” Winslow coach Lindsey Withee said. “No rhythm. We couldn’t get into that rhythm, and it was tough seeing (the unbeaten start) just kind of start slipping away. Tomorrow, we’ll regroup in practice.”

Winslow junior Paige Trask drilled a 3-pointer from the left corner to tie the score on the Raiders’ first possession of the second half. The teams traded early buckets until Winslow took the lead for the final time — 21-20 —on Weslee Littlefield’s 3-pointer from the top of the key midway through the period.

And then the floodgates opened.

Claudia Fernandez’s short jumper ignited a 19-3 run that extended into the first minute of the final quarter. Linkletter took care of the outside game with a trey from the right corner, and Morton took care of the transition with three layups off long outlet passes following Christa Carr (six rebounds) boards. The Huskies scored 15 straight points during one particularly frustrating stretch for the Raiders.

“That was the quarter that I expect from them,” MCI coach Jordan Larlee said. “That’s nothing out of the ordinary, we just had a lot of players that had been slumping. We finally found a way to put the ball in the basket. We had a few big threes, which stretched them out, and it opened everything up for us.”

Linkletter’s nine-point quarter, which included long and short jumpers and even a layup on the fast break, hearkened back to her freshman season last winter.

“She hasn’t had a quarter like that this year, but I saw a lot of them last year,” Larlee said. “That’s a big confidence booster for her, I would imagine. She can score really quickly, really fast.”

“At halftime, Coach told me to just keep shooting the ball because they’d fall for me eventually,” Linkletter said. “Syd Farrar got me going with a nice pass for an easy layup. That got me going, and they just kept falling from there.”

Morton made a layup with 5:10 remaining in the contest, and Farrar followed from the foul line to build MCI’s biggest lead of the night, 46-28, with 4:43 to play. By the time Larlee emptied the bench, Winslow went into desperation mode by trying to build momentum from beyond the 3-point arc.

“We’ve got to give MCI credit. They took it to us,” Withee said. “For once in my life, I was speechless in the locker room. We got away from our defensive plan, and we’ve just got to regroup.”

“It feels pretty good,” Morton added of beating the previously undefeated Raiders. “I’m going to sleep well tonight.”

Travis Barrett — 621-5621

[email protected]

Twitter: @TBarrettGWC

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