Nokomis picked up an important win Monday, beating Class AA Bangor 68-65. Since losing to Skowhegan in overtime on Jan. 9, the Warriors have won four games in a row to improve to 8-5 and remain solidly in third place in the Class A North Heal Point standings.

“We’ve rebounded nicely from that,” Nokomis coach Ryan Martin said of his team’s play since that 51-50 loss to Skowhegan. Nokomis held a slim lead late in overtime before Skowhegan won on a Marcus Christopher putback of an offensive rebound on a missed foul shot. “That was a tough way to lose a game, but the guys reacted the right way.”

Against Bangor, the Warriors were led by senior Zach Hartsgrove, who recently scored his 1,000th career point. Hartsgrove and Bangor standout Matthew Fleming went back and forth for much of the game. Hartsgrove finished with 37 points, while Fleming had 32.

The Warriors begin a tough final stretch of the regular season with a home game against Gardiner (6-6 and in fourth place in the region) Thursday. Nokomis has trips to Erskine, Messalonskee, and Lawrence, before closing the season at home against top-ranked Hampden.

“Gardiner Thursday is a really important one,” Martin said. “Gardiner’s not going to be easy, and those three road games are all in tough places to play.”

• • •

This has been a season of streaks for Madison. Saturday’s win over Monmouth was the Bulldogs third victory in a row and improved the team’s record to 7-7. This win streak comes on the heels of a five-game losing streak.

This run of success is important for the Bulldogs, as they are about to begin a tough three-game stretch. Madison’s next three games are against Dirigo, Hall-Dale, and Winthrop, three of the top four teams in the Class C South Heal Point standings. Those three teams have a combined record of 32-7. Each of those teams already has a win over the Bulldogs this season.

Following those three games, Madison closes the regular season against rival Carrabec, a team also fighting for a playoff spot.

• • •

The race for the final Class A North playoff spot is going to come down to the final day of the regular season. Eight teams in the region qualify for the tournament, and as of Tuesday afternoon, only three points separated eighth and eleventh place. Defending regional champion Messalonskee currently holds the eighth spot, but is less than a point ahead of Medomak Valley. Lawrence and Brewer sit close behind in 10th and 11th place, respectively.

Messalonskee was scheduled to play at Lawrence Tuesday, but the poor weather postponed the game until next Wednesday, Jan. 31. Messalonskee is set to host Brewer Thursday, in another game that will be key to playoff fortunes.

Lawrence has a big game at fellow contender Medomak Valley Monday, but plays at top-ranked Hampden and Class B North Winslow before that.

• • •

Even with a 4-8 record, Erskine is still alive and well in its playoff pursuit. The Eagles are sixth in Class A North, thanks to big victories over Cony (7-5), Skowhegan (9-4) and Medomak Valley (7-4).

“I know that this is a marathon, and we’re a little over halfway through,” coach Tim Bonsant said. “We’re going to have to win a few more games to make sure we secure our spot in the playoffs. We’re going to take it one game at a time.”

Erskine has stayed competitive despite the loss for the season of standout center Noah Bonsant, and coach Bonsant said the team is still looking for ways to make up his production.

“We’re still adjusting,” he said. “But I’ve had some kids step up, which has been really nice. The league is tough. We’ve been in just about every game, and could have won a few more. We just need to finish at the end of the game. We have to make free throws and we’ve got to make a stop.”

Coach Bonsant said it has been a team effort to replace the injured senior. Braden Soule has moved from shooting guard to point guard, where he’s averaging nearly 14 points and six assists per game. Jack Jowett (just under 16 points per game) has been the leading scorer, and Gavin Blanchard, who’s averaging nearly 10 rebounds per game, and 6-foot-3 Jacob Praul have picked up much of the slack on the boards.

The flaw, however, has been shooting, which has gone cold and cost an Eagles team that has dropped seven of its last nine games.

“We’re shooting around 20 percent, 21 percent from the field,” he said. “We’re taking good shots. My kids just need to have more confidence.”

Staff writer Drew Bonifant contributed to this report.

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM

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