OAKLAND — As Messalonskee High School girls basketball coach Keith Derosby saw a 10-point lead evaporate into a five-point deficit in the fourth quarter Wednesday night against Lawrence, he had one thought.

“Not again,” Derosby said.

In the second game of the season, Lawrence pulled away in a close game late to take a win over the Eagles. This time, though, Derosby’s team rallied late, then held on for a 44-42 win. Messalonskee improved to 10-5, while Lawrence dropped to 9-6.

“I think it was just all about how we’re controlling the tempo of the game. We sometimes get panicked late in games when it’s close, but I think this time around we really got it together and we worked as a team to win,” said Messalonskee’s Ally Turner, who had 15 points and eight rebounds.

The Eagles took the lead for good on Brianne Benecke’s layup with 1:34 to play, 43-42. With 8.7 seconds left, Makayla Wilson made the front end of a one-and-one chance at the line, giving the Eagles a two-point lead. Wilson’s miss on the second gave the Bulldogs a chance, but Camryn Caldwell’s long three went off the rim at the buzzer.

Messalonskee led by as much as 10 points in the second quarter, and a three-point play by Alyssa Genness early in the third gave the Eagles a 27-18 lead. Lawrence coach Greg Chesley pointed at the run of big games the Bulldogs have played lately, and said those caught up to his team early.

“We’re beat, and that showed in the first half. We played tired. We played a little lifeless. At halftime, I challenged the girls, one thing we can do is come out and give it all we’ve got, and they did do that,” Chesley said.

Brooklyn Lambert scored 15 points to lead Lawrence. Keagan Alley added 12 points for the Bulldogs.

PLAYER OF THE GAME: While Turner led the Eagles in scoring and rebounds, the senior also set the tone for her young team by hustling across the court on defense and chasing every 50/50 ball.

“She’s a competitor and she sets the tone,” Derosby said. “We just battled Nokomis last night for four quarters, and I didn’t know if we were going to have the legs, but I’m proud of the girls.”

FREE THROWS WEREN’T FREE: Messalonskee was just 6 for 15 at the line, and the Eagles almost gave Lawrence the game with a pair of misses of front end of one-and-one tries in the final minute, before Wilson sank one of two for a two-point cushion.

Lawrence was 5 for 10 at the line, and missed a pair of foul shots that would have given the Bulldogs a one-point lead late in the third quarter.

REMATCH: When Lawrence and Messalonskee met on Dec. 13, the second game of the season for both, Lawrence took a 58-43 win.

TOURNAMENT IMPLICATIONS: Messalonskee entered this game ranked third in the Class A North Heal point standings, approximately 12.5 points ahead of the fourth-place Bulldogs. The win keeps the Eagles firmly in the three hole, now 24 points ahead of Lawrence, and 11 behind No. 2 Skowhegan.

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM