OAKLAND — How the Messalonskee boys basketball team earned its biggest win of the season, in the end, wasn’t all that difficult to dissect.

The Eagles, in desperate need of valuable Heal points after an average first half of the year, held visiting Skowhegan to just 11 second-half points while using an inside-outside game which performed nearly flawlessly — cruising to a 53-33 Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference win Saturday night. Messalonskee (5-5) began the day on the outside looking in when it came to playoff positioning in a tight Class A North, but with a win over No. 2 Skowhegan (7-4), the Eagles leapt into sixth for the time being.

“We played with some energy and some physicality that’s been missing in some previous games,” Messalonskee coach Peter McLaughlin said. “(Skowhegan) has some of the best players in our conference, and I think our guys took it personally that we had to go out and play great man-to-man defense… This is the best we’ve played all year long.”

Sophomore Tucker Charles carried the load in a momentum-building second quarter with eight of his game-high 17 points in the period. His older brother, senior Dawson Charles, provided the touch from the perimeter, finishing with 13 points, including three 3-pointers.

“That’s a big win,” Dawson Charles said. “It was huge for us. We felt today that it was a huge game that we needed to win to get a good spot in the playoffs and try and go far.”

The teams were virtually deadlocked after the opening quarter, with Skowhegan holding a 13-12 advantage through eight minutes. But the Indians were outscored 41-20 the rest of the way, and nowhere was the disparity more glaring than in the second half. Skowhegan managed just four field goals after halftime.

The Charles brothers alone collected three each in the second half.

“We didn’t show up, and they did,” Skowhegan coach Tom Nadeau said. “They hit shots, we did not. … We’ve been up and down. We’ve been inconsistent. Tonight we were too inconsistent. In the past we’ve been able to get away with it, but today we didn’t.”

The Indians utilized Marcus Christopher (15 points) and Cam Barnes (six points) in the paint to great effectiveness early on. But as Messalonskee tightened up its defensive pressure both in the post and along the perimeter, Skowhegan couldn’t match the Eagles’ energy.

Tucker Charles, generously listed a 6-feet on the team’s roster, used both hands to penetrate the lane and drive along the baseline with increasing regularity and accuracy. Dawson Charles, meanwhile, manned the 3-point arc, where he was lethal.

Chase Warren found Dawson Charles for a short jumper early in the fourth quarter, one that made it 41-29 and was the final blow to Skowhegan’s hopes.

“We started to attack a little more,” Tucker Charles said of Messalonskee’s approach to the second half. “We knew they were bigger than us, but we tried to move the ball a lot. Everybody started to find openings, and we realized it wasn’t as crowded in the lane as it seemed like.”

First-half foul trouble for a couple of Messalonskee’s starters, namely Warren and Cole Wood, forced McLaughlin to go to his bench earlier than he wanted. In an interesting twist, it seemed to give the Eagles the jump they needed.

“I think the guys have been really working to get to this point,” McLaughlin said. “We needed this for our season. I couldn’t be more proud of the guys.”

Travis Barrett — 621-5621

[email protected]

Twitter: @TBarrettGWC

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