WATERVILLE — The Cinderella run through the second half of the season for the Waterville girls basketball team continued Friday night.

The Purple Panthers extended their winning streak to eight games, erasing a six-point deficit over the final four minutes and getting senior Mackenzie St. Pierre’s bucket as the clock wound down for a 33-31 win over rival Winslow in a Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class B game at Donovan Gym.

St. Pierre finished with 10 points, one of only two players on either side to hit double figures in a game marked by defensive pressure. Winslow’s Weslee Littlefield also had 10 points.

Waterville will leapfrog Winslow, which entered the night at No. 7, in the regional standings as each tries to avoid a preliminary round game in the upcoming tournament. The Panthers and Black Raiders are both 11-5 with two games remaining.

TURNING POINT: St. Pierre missed the front end of a one-and-one chance with 10.8 seconds remaining that could have given the Panthers the lead then and there. Abigail Saucier grabbed the rebound, allowing Waterville coach Rob Rodrigue to call timeout and restart the play from the right side with 7.7 seconds left.

Saucier found St. Pierre above the 3-point arc, and St. Pierre cut to the lane where she encountered little traffic en route to the go-ahead layup with under three seconds remaining.

“My foul shot that I missed was really my motivation to drive to the rim,” St. Pierre said. “I had to finish. I just knew I had to finish.”

It was not a set play, at least not literally, Rodrigue said.

“It was kind of drawn up like that, but really it was just a great play by her,” Rodrigue said. “It’s a senior taking the bull by the horns and putting the team on her back. We were going to go with her. If it went to overtime, it went to overtime.”

Saucier hit a pair of free throws with 32.5 seconds to play to tie the game at 31-31.

Waterville finished the game on an 8-0 run.

FULL-COURT PRESS: Waterville’s eight-game winning streak has been marked by one constant: Defensive pressure. The Purple Panthers played a 2-2-1 full-court press from start to finish, collapsing into a very aggressive 2-3 zone against the half-court set.

“We knew that if we kept the pace, we’d be in a little better spot in the fourth quarter,” Rodrigue said. “That’s what we do. We’re going to play 10 kids and we’re going to get after it and pressure some people. It creates some offense for us.”

It caused trouble for Winslow throughout the night, as the Black Raiders hit double digits in only one quarter — the third. They managed just three points in the opening period and nine points total in the first half.

“We’ve worked so hard the last few practices, everyone brought fight in them tonight,” St. Pierre said. “Coach is always on us, every practice. I think that’s the reason we’ve won so many games in a row.”

With the game on the line in the closing stages, Waterville limited Winslow to just one attempt from the floor over the final 3:49.

TURNOVERS: Winslow committed 21 turnovers on the night, including seven in the final four minutes of the game after Paige Trask’s second 3-pointer of the half had given the Black Raiders the largest lead for either team all night at 31-25.

“We aren’t going to beat anyone with 21 turnovers,” Winslow coach Lindsey Withee said.

Winslow went scoreless over the final 5:08 of the contest. “We’ve been getting away from taking care of the basketball.”

INSIDE OUT: The Black Raiders seemed to have taken control of the game in the third quarter, when senior forward Haley Ward began to find seams in the Panther zone. She scored six of her eight points in the third period.

“She does a really good job right around the free throw line and can knock those shots down,” Withee said.

Ward’s emergence inside opened up the perimeter for Winslow’s guards, as Littlefield and Trask each connected for a pair of threes in the second half — including one apiece in the fourth quarter.

Travis Barrett — 621-5621

[email protected]

Twitter: @TBarrettGWC

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