WINSLOW — The record’s painted the picture of an easy December for the Waterville girls basketball team.

Coach Rob Rodrigue, however, said it’s been anything but.

“This team’s battle-tested,” he said. “We haven’t had an easy one yet. Every one’s been single digits in the fourth quarter.”

They didn’t get one Thursday either. Once again, however, the Purple Panthers were more than ready for another gut check.

Sadie Garling hit four 3-pointers and scored 18 points, and Waterville defeated Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference rival Winslow, 42-36, in a battle of unbeatens at Winslow High School.

“Mental toughness,” Garling answered when asked what allowed her team to prevail. “Keeping it together, keeping our composure.”

Rodrigue echoed that point.

“I like our kids, and just the execution at the end of the game, the last four minutes,” he said. “Getting to the free throw line, taking open layups. It’s what we asked them to do and they did a phenomenal job of that.”

Rodrigue said the mental toughness translated in another way.

“I was very pleased with the way we adjusted to the way the game was being called,” said Rodrigue, who also got eight points and 12 rebounds from Madeline Martin. “We were a little handsy and we fouled quite often. … I like the way my kids came out in the second half and really adjusted to that.”

Freed from foul trouble, Waterville’s defense was able to flourish, holding Winslow (5-1) to misses on its first 14 shots of the fourth quarter and allowing the Purple Panthers to take command of a game they led only 32-31 after three.

“I thought that Waterville really extended out on our shooters very well and rushed our shots,” said Winslow coach Brenda Beckwith, whose team got 16 points from Weslee Littlefield, nine from Paige Trask and eight and 15 rebounds from Maeghan Bernard. “They put a lot of pressure (on), got us out of what we typically like to do, move the ball around. We didn’t do that very well.”

“I think our kids really executed the game plan to a T,” Rodrigue said. “Our kids did a great job of closing out on the shooters.”

Winslow was set up well in the third quarter, up 28-23 after a Bernard jumper with just under five minutes to go in the period, but the Purple Panthers answered. Garling hit her fourth 3-pointer, Jayda Murray hit another to put Waterville back in front 29-28 with 2:16 left, and Garling then hit a pair of free throws to bump the lead to three points.

Winslow’s Trask hit a 3-pointer with 44 seconds left in the period to even the game at 31, but Paige St. Pierre hit a free throw with 0.2 seconds left in the third to put the Purple Panthers back in front — this time for good.

Waterville hit three of its first four shots in the fourth to build up the advantage. Kali Thompson drove for a layup, Martin knocked down a jumper and Lindsay Given scored in transition after a St. Pierre rebound to make it 38-32 with under five minutes to play.

Afterward, Beckwith was confident her team would build from the loss.

“We’re at game six. … I don’t think my girls are going to panic,” she said. “They really feel like this thing’s fixable. They can fix some of that stuff. But that’s a very good team.”

And one, Garling said, that may have made an early statement to the rest of Class B.

“It’s such a big win,” the junior said. “They always say Winslow’s the team to beat, but I think we are now.”

WINSLOW 50, WATERVILLE 48: The Waterville boys basketball team was poised for an awaited breakthrough. Winslow made sure its rival would have to wait another night.

Colby Pomeroy had 25 points, Isaiah Goldsmith and Jacob Bisson teamed up on a clutch steal and Justin Laflamme knocked down two clinching free throws to lead Winslow to the KVAC win in front of a capacity crowd.

“It was a good character win for us,” said Pomeroy, who scored 10 points in the fourth. “We were simply calm. We knew what we could do in the late game.”

David Barre had 14 points and Jack Lloyd had 10 to lead Waterville (0-6), which had the ball down 48-46 with under 20 seconds to go. But Goldsmith poked the ball free, Bisson gathered it, and Laflamme (17 points) hit both free throws after the foul to put Winslow (4-2) up 50-46 with 9.5 seconds left.

“We did enough things down the stretch,” coach Ken Lindlof said. “Took care of the ball, made free throws. … We talked about this game, it’s going to be fun. Little kids growing up in this community, in Waterville, all over central Maine want to be in a game like this.

“That’s kind of why we do this, for nights like this.”

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