After a few weeks of injury and eligibility issues, the Skowhegan boys basketball team took the court Tuesday against Messalonskee. The Indians rallied from a 15-point first half deficit to take a 56-54 win, After the game, coach Tom Nadeau said rust could have been a factor in the team’s slow start, but with the playoffs starting next weekend, a little rust now is a small price for having the band back together.

“Maybe that was part of our slow start in the first half. I don’t know. It feels nice to have everybody back and be full strength,” Nadeau said.

The win improved Skowhegan to 10-7, with the regular-season finale at Lawrence on Thursday night. Skowhegan will likely be the No. 3 seed in the Class A North tournament, the team’s highest seed since earning the two seed in 2001.

Tuesday’s win snapped a three-game losing streak for Skowhegan. Senior Cam Barnes and sophomore Matush Prokop both returned to the lineup, and each played key minutes in the win. A starting guard, Barnes scored 11 points. His free throws with 4:02 to play tied the game at 47-47, and his layup with just under two minutes left gave Skowhegan a brief 51-49 lead. A reserve forward, Prokop came off the bench and scored nine points and grabbed seven rebounds.

Being shorthanded tested Skowhegan’s depth, but in the long run, Nadeau thinks the team’s depth will be strengthened by the experience.

“There’s three or four guys who were able to get some minutes in that time. They didn’t get many this game (against Messalonskee), but at the same time, if we need them, that’s going to pay dividends down the road,” Nadeau said.

• • •

While playoff spots across the state were up for grabs this week, that wasn’t the case in Class D South. As the last few games of the regular season played out, it appeared most of the eight teams in the region’s playoff field were locked into their seed.

“We’re going to be two,” Valley coach Curtis Miller said on Wednesday. Miller’s Cavaliers were set to play top-seed Greenville Thursday, but Miller didn’t think a win would give Valley enough Heal Points to jump the Lakers into first place. The Cavs entered the day 20 points behind Greenville. “It’s a big (game), just for confidence going into the playoffs.”

The only movement in Class D South looked to be in the final two seeds. Both Temple Academy and Rangeley had playoff spots locked up. Temple (8-9) was in seventh place with a game against Greater Portland Christian (0-13) to play. The eight seed, Rangeley (9-8) was scheduled to take on A.R. Gould (13-4) Thursday. A win over Gould could jump the Lakers into seventh and drop the Bereans to eighth.

Temple coach Tom Simmons said his team has played better as of later, and pointed to the second half of Tuesday’s 64-47 win over Rangeley as an example.

“In the second half we played the kind of game we can play,” Simmons said. “We need to play our game. We’re big and we need to work the ball inside. That’s what we do best. We’ve got to not rush our offense. Other teams get us running like that, we struggle.”

If Temple remains the seven seed, it sets up an intriguing quarterfinal game against Valley. The teams met twice in the regular season, with Valley winning a pair of close games, 49-47 and 62-57.

• • •

Madison wrapped up its regular season last Saturday, losing to Carrabec, 52-46, to finish the regular season with a 9-9 record. Now, the Bulldogs practice and wait to learn who will be their preliminary round opponent next Wednesday. It will likely be either Old Orchard Beach or Buckfield, coach Jason Furbush said. Madison played neither team in the regular season.

“It’s definitely a little tougher playing a team you haven’t faced,” Furbush said. “And the teams you compete against all season didn’t play them either, so it’s tougher to get a scouting report.”

Furbush said the Bulldogs plan to scrimmage Mountain Valley on Monday, and he hoped to get a guest speaker into practice this week to address the team.

“It might be good for them to hear a different voice,” Furbush said.

Defense and ball control are the focus of Madison’s pre-tournament practices, Furbush said.

“We’ve got to tighten our defense up, and we’re working on taking care of the basketball better,” he said.

• • •

Around the state: Three of the five defending state champions will likely enter the tournament as the top seed in their region. Portland (AA), Greely (A), and George Stevens Academy (C) each entered the final week of the season in the top spot. Mt. Desert Island (B) is the two seed in Class B North, while Machias (D) sits in fifth place in Class D North… The Class B South tournament could be the most competitive and hard to predict in the state. No team has fewer than five losses… In going 18-0 in the regular season, Hermon had just three games decided by fewer than 10 points. The Hawks will be the top seed in the Class B North playoffs.

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM

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