WINSLOW — Even with the team’s nucleus still intact, and even with a number of the same sets and systems still in place, the reigning Class B state champions are still working out some of the bugs.

It took three-plus quarters for the Winslow girls basketball team to find find its rhythm Thursday night, but it did just in time to pull away for a 53-49 win over Maine Central Institute in a Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference game. Senior guard Weslee Littlefield scored 10 of her 12 points in the fourth quarter as the Black Raiders improved to 7-2, while junior Silver Clukey scored a game-high 15 points to lead the offense.

But the offense wasn’t where Winslow won on this night.

After getting dominated on the glass for the first 24 minutes by Huskies Christa Carr (six points, 17 rebounds) and Leah Bussell (eight points, seven rebounds), the Black Raiders started hauling down their share of missed shots at both ends of the floor. It allowed them to turn a 40-40 game with 6:26 remaining into a 51-43 lead with 42.4 seconds left on the clock.

“We got lit into in the locker room (at halftime). We needed to turn things around,” Littlefield said. “We just weren’t playing like ourselves. So we had a little talk in the locker room and then it was all done from there.”

Bodhi Littlefield’s putback made it a 43-40 lead for Winslow, before Weslee Littlefield put one off the glass off a drive for a 45-40 advantage only 32 seconds later.

From there, Weslee Littlefield went to work at the charity stripe, making all six of her free throw attempts in the closing minutes.

“Everyone’s streaky, so you’ve just got to keep shooting and get your confidence up,” Weslee Littlefield said. “It’s like if you get a steal, OK, now you feel like you’re going to get more. Defensive stops. It’s all like a big snowball that works together.”

“It takes us three quarters to figure out that if we get some rebounds and make some baskets, things turn around for us,” Winslow coach Brenda Beckwith said. “I just think that everybody comes to play their best game against us, and we don’t respond very well to that. We need to get better at that.”

Only a pair of late 3-pointers from MCI’s Jillian Frost (12 points) gave the Huskies hope of a rally in the final minute.

“We don’t quite have the gas to finish, and when we do we’re going to beat anybody,” said MCI coach Jordan Larlee, whose team fell to 4-5. “It’s kind of been the name of the game this season. We’re finding that our defense is getting a lot better as we go through the year, but we’ve got to find a way to get two more stops or one more basket.

“If we do, it will be a different game.”

Winslow started slowly, falling behind 5-0 just 2:10 into the contest before a 12-0 run keyed by a pair of Bodhi Littlefield treys got them going. MCI fought back, though, with a good shooting night from Sydney Farrar (13 points) keeping things tight all the way into halftime, where the game was tied at 23-23.

Carr and Farrar helped stake the Huskies out to a third-quarter lead, but Clukey started to find her range with a pair of 3s of her own after Winslow shot just 25 percent from the floor as a team in the first half.

A full-court pressure defense and a half-court trap was enough for the Black Raiders to force MCI into 18 turnovers on the night and keep the Huskies from using their size advantage to set up shop as much as they would have liked.

“Defense is going to win you a lot of things when things aren’t going well for you,” Beckwith said. “I don’t think we’re clicking well with our offense at all. I don’t know if it’s what we’re trying to run or that other teams know us very well. We don’t come in trying to surprise anybody by what we do, but maybe we’ll have to come up with something new.”

Travis Barrett — 621-5621

[email protected]

Twitter: @TBarrettGWC

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