PITTSFIELD — The Erskine Academy boys basketball team took the lead early. It never let up. And it finished in style.

For an Eagles team on a season-long quest to find its identity, Tuesday night was exactly what it needed.

Jack Jowett scored 21 points and Erskine started rolling and never slowed, eventually finishing off a 48-29 victory over Maine Central Institute at Wright Gymnasium in Pittsfield.

Erskine improved to 6-10, and is in the top half of the Class A North Heal points due to some impressive early-season wins. But it’s been an up-and-down season in South China as the Eagles have tried to get by since losing standout center Noah Bonsant before the season started.

On Tuesday night, however, everything clicked.

“We played smart basketball, is what it was,” Jowett said. “We controlled the ball, we didn’t do stupid things. We tried to keep it simple and just play our game.

“It was a good win for the whole team. Everyone played well.”

Coach Tim Bonsant said he hoped the win would provide a boost of confidence for his team, which had dropped two straight and three of its last four.

“It was a team effort tonight,” he said. “We needed to win this to get into the playoffs, and the kids finally played all four full quarters.”

The Eagles were helped by a frigid shooting performance from the hosts, with the Huskies (8-7) only shooting at a 27 percent clip for the night.

“That’s happened to us a few times this year. It’s unfortunate that it happened tonight,” MCI coach Josh Tardy said. “Credit to Erskine, they came out and defended. We missed some must-makes early, and I think that kind of set a tone.”

While the Huskies stumbled early, the Eagles caught a quick spark. Erskine knocked down four of its first six shots en route to a 14-7 lead after the first quarter, with Jowett putting in nine points. He scored four more in the second as the Eagles stretched the lead even further into a 27-15 advantage by halftime.

“We all need to score, but people were giving me the ball,” Jowett said. “A lot of times I was in the right spot, and other times it was just a great pass.”

MCI kept its comeback hopes flickering but alive when Owen Williams (14 points) stole a ball and finished on the break, making it 35-24 with only four seconds left in the third quarter. The apparent momentum boost became just a punch to the gut, however, when Braden Soule (13 points) gathered the inbound pass and drained a buzzer-beater from just inside half-court to make it 38-24 going into the final period.

“We had a chance, we cut it to 11, and then they hit the nice shot at the end of the third quarter which was one of many back-breakers,” Tardy said. “But it doesn’t come down to any one play. Erskine just flat out-played us tonight.”

MCI missed nine of its first 10 shots over the first 6:40 of the fourth quarter.

“They couldn’t buy a basket,” Coach Bonsant said. “Yeah, we played decent defense, but they couldn’t buy a basket, and we’ve been there this year. But I thought we defensively rebounded the ball and offensively rebounded the ball well.

Gavin Blanchard and Jacob Praul grabbed most of those rebounds, picking up nine apiece.

Adam Bertrand scored nine points while Jose Ignacio Montes Valverde grabbed nine rebounds for the Huskies, who sit 10th in the B North standings — the top 11 go to the playoffs — with three games to go.

“We need some wins to get in,” Tardy said. “At this point, you can’t back your way into the playoffs.”

Drew Bonifant — 621-5638

[email protected]

Twitter: @dbonifantMTM

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