READFIELD — It was looking like a late-season slip-up for the Winslow High School boys basketball team.

Instead, the Black Raiders couldn’t have asked for a more inspiring prelude to their postseason.

Jake Lapierre scored 19 points and Winslow roared back from a 13-point deficit late in the fourth quarter Tuesday night, rallying to top Maranacook 59-55 in a Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class B game at Maranacook Community School.

“We knew coming into this place, the way they play, their tempo, their shooters, it puts a lot of stress on your defense, on your offense and on your bench,” coach Ken Lindlof said. “The kids are great. Every timeout, everyone was focused on the task at hand … and doing what they could on every possession. You can only take it one possession at a time, and tonight it worked out.”

Michael Wildes scored 13, putting together a big fourth quarter of his own, while Colby Pomeroy scored 11 points for the Black Raiders (14-3).

Silas Mohlar led the Black Bears (12-5) with 17 points, while Jarred Schmidt scored 14.

“You can’t turn the ball over as much as we did against a really good team and you have to make foul shots,” Maranacook coach Rob Schmidt said. “Turnovers and foul shots were the story of that game.”

PLAYER OF THE GAME: When the Black Raiders needed him most, Lapierre came through. The senior had 12 points after two quick baskets to start the third quarter, but was held in check as the Black Bears built what became a 53-40 lead with 4:10 to go.

With the team running out of options and time, Lapierre found a rhythm. He sank a pair of free throws to make it 53-44, then knocked down a corner 3-pointer to cut the gap to 53-47 with 2:42 to play. He went to the line after a Maranacook travel on the next series, knocking down both to make it a 9-0 Black Raiders run and trim the deficit to 53-49.

“Jake’s a guy who wants the ball in his hands in clutch situations,” Lindlof said. “That’s what we like, as well.”

Lapierre hit two 3-pointers for Winslow and made all four of his free throws.

“I don’t want to take all the credit. It definitely was a team effort,” he said. “I started it, but I wasn’t the one who finished it.”

FINISHING IN STYLE: Indeed, Lapierre’s teammates finished the job.

Pomeroy hit a 3-pointer with 1:41 to go, bringing Winslow within a point at 53-52. He then came through on the other end of the floor with a steal, kickstarting the sequence that gave Winslow control for good.

Wildes got the ball behind the arc and fired up a shot, watching it sail through the net just as the whistle sounded. The officials ruled that the basket counted, giving the Black Raiders a 55-53 lead with 1:17 to play, but also that a foul had occurred when Wildes landed on the attempt. That awarded Winslow two more free throws, and though both missed, the Black Bears didn’t lead again.

Maranacook evened the game at 55 on a pair of Mohlar free throws, but Winslow came back with a Wildes floater, then got two free throws from the senior after a Maranacook miss to finish the scoring.

“I like to think we have pretty good balance,” Lindlof said. “We all chipped in defensively. We put together a good run at the right time, I guess is what happened.”

BLACK BEARS FALTER: As the game was starting to slip away, Maranacook kept hurting its chances at holding on.

Starting with 2:19 to play and the score 53-47, the Black Bears turned the ball over four times, three of them coming on travels, to fan the fire behind Winslow’s comeback attempt.

“We’re going to miss shots, we’re going to make shots. I thought our defense was pretty good,” Schmidt said. “But we just did not take care of the ball like we have to against a really good team.”

Schmidt, whose team also was hurt by a 10-for-18 effort at the free-throw line, said he could see some jitters set in once the Black Raiders began to slash away at their deficit.

“It got to us a little,” he said. “We had too many turnovers and I think that that was because of the atmosphere, because it’s Winslow, because we wanted this game really bad. There was a lot on the line.”

OPTIMISTIC TONE: Even after the loss, Schmidt sounded confident his team would turn the experience into a positive one with the all-or-nothing nature of the playoffs one game away.

“Absolutely. They’re a high-caliber team,” he said. “They’re going to have a high seed in B North, they’re going to be a really tough out. I put Winslow up against any of the B South teams on any given night. It shows that we’re right there with those types of teams.”

Both teams have one game left. Maranacook will finish with Waterville on Thursday, while Winslow closes against MCI on Thursday.

“When we go into the tournament, I think we’re going to have a lot of confidence,” Schmidt said. “We need to take care of the ball better, we need to make foul shots. In a playoff game, you can’t do that type of stuff. But I think there are positives to take out of it.”

Drew Bonifant — 621-5638

[email protected]

Twitter: @dbonifantMTM

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