PITTSFIELD — After 12 days off since its last game, the Maranacook Community High School boys basketball team had a little bit of hoops cabin fever. The cure? A strong effort against a good Maine Central Institute team.

“Oh my goodness. We were so sick of practicing. It’s boring after a while. We were ready. We needed this,” Maranacook coach Rob Schmidt said.

The Black Bears overcame an early deficit, and held off the Huskies for a 64-56 Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference win. Maranacook is now 4-1, while MCI is 6-1. With tough games against Cony and Leavitt coming up, the Black Bears needed this one, senior Aric Belanger said.

“It can get kind of riled up here. To win this one is a huge momentum push,” Belanger, who scored eight of his 13 points in the second half, said.

Maine Central Institute’s Matt Glidden, right center, and teammate Gavin McArthur battle for the rebound with Maranacook’s Jarred Schmidt, left center, and Elijas Bergdahl in Pittsfield on Wednesday.

MCI played without a pair of key players, Jose Valverde and Jaroslav Ruta, both not back from break in Europe yet.

“They’re a pretty good team and we were pretty pumped up to play them. We knew they were down a couple guys, but they’re still a good team without them,” Schmidt said.

“I wasn’t worried about that, really,” MCI coach Josh Tardy said about playing shorthanded. “I thought we needed to do a better job closing out on their shooters, and they taught us a lesson. They shot well. I don’t care who would be out on the floor.”

MCI led by six points, 20-14, early in the second quarter, before Maranacook rallied. A Cash McClure three with 2:16 left in the first half gave the Black Bears the lead for good. McClure scored 17 of his game-high 21 points in the first half.

“It was a real team effort. Cash carried us offensively in the first half, but we had some guys take charges,” Schmidt said. “A bunch of guys made some baskets. It was just a well-rounded game by our game.”

Maine Central Institute’s Joe Cloutier (1) passes Maranacook High School defender Mitchell Root (5) on Wednesday in Pittsfield.

Once it took the lead, Maranacook never relinquished it, although the Huskies came close. MCI cut the deficit to one point, 49-48, on a Daniel Garamvolgyi (15 points) layup with 4:48 to play. The Black Bears then closed the game with a 15-8 run to pull away. Mitchell Root scored 10 of his 12 points in the second half for the Black Bears, including two key shots down the stretch.

“We kept fighting back. I thought they were good looks, I thought they were looks that were going in. It was just one of those nights,” Tardy said.

A key for the Black Bears was limiting fouls after getting into early foul trouble, Belanger said. Both Skyler Boucher and Elias Bergdahl picked up three fouls in the first half, but neither had a foul in the second half. That helped the Black Bears prevent MCI guards from penetrating the lane.

“We didn’t let them get into the paint. Their guards are pretty good, so they can get it deep into the paint and make things happen,” Belanger said.

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM

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