FARMINGTON — A new formula for success is starting to pay off for the Messalonskee girls basketball team.

Relying on depth and defense after several seasons of utilizing top-end talent, the Eagles cruised to their third straight win Friday night, a 56-33 decision over Mt. Blue in a Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class A game. Junior Gabrielle Wener led Messalonskee (4-3) with 15 points, while Emily Parent added 11 in the victory.

“High school basketball, especially for us, that half-court offense can be tricky,” Messalonskee coach Keith Derosby said. “People start to get too prescribed. Using our defense to create those fast-break situations, we can run the floor well. I have kids that are unselfish, so they’ll make that extra pass.

“That’s how you can build space… When they believe in it, you’re turning the ball over and getting some quick buckets. It was good to see tonight.”

The biggest blow for Mt. Blue (4-4) wasn’t the defeat. Instead, it was the loss of junior point guard Lexi Mittelstadt, who injured her ankle in pre-game warmups and spent the rest of the night with a pair of crutches by her side along the Cougar bench.

“I haven’t had a chance to talk to the trainer yet, but it’s unfortunate,” Mt. Blue co-coach Fred Conlogue said. “She just rolled it. It definitely was a loss today, the leadership of her game.”

Messalonskee made its defense pay off midway through the second quarter, turning a gritty undermanned effort from Mt. Blue into a runaway before the half was over.

After freshman Eva Stevens, who led the Cougars with a game-high 18 points, drained a 3-pointer to make it a one-point game, the Eagles finished off the half on a 16-2 run.

Wener, Parent and Alyssa Genness (eight points) scored key points during the run, aided by several of Mt. Blue’s 15 first-half turnovers.

“We were able to pressure the ball and get in deny and pick off long passes,” Wener said. “Defense leads to offense. When we pick up the intensity on the defensive end, everything kind of comes naturally on the defensive end.”

With foul trouble limiting the roles Mt. Blue’s starters could play in the second half, Messalonskee maintained its advantage.

Danielle Hall had her best all-around performance of the season for the Eagles, scoring nine points. Katie Seekins added six, and in all eight different Messalonskee players hit the scoresheet.

“When you can sub in the kids we have off the bench and they’re contributing, it’s nice,” Derosby said. “You can spell kids when they get in foul trouble or are tired.”

That depth couldn’t be matched by Mt. Blue, which got nine points from Kiely Reynolds and four more from Aislynn Provencher — and just two points from the rest of the roster combined.

“We were very pleased with the first quarter. We thought the team came out with some great energy and was able to withstand (Mittelstadt’s loss), but we just couldn’t maintain it for the length of the game.”

Travis Barrett — 621-5621

[email protected]

Twitter: @TBarrettGWC

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