PITTSFIELD — Quick starts and full-court defense have powered the Waterville girls basketball team all season. Monday was no different.

In a rematch of one of the Purple Panthers’ closest games all winter, Waterville scored the first 10 points of the afternoon and cruised to a 53-35 win over Maine Central Institute in a Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class B contest at Wright Gym. The Panthers improved to a perfect 13-0, a record that includes a four-point win over the Huskies at home in the second game of the season.

“That’s what we do,” Waterville coach Rob Rodrigue said. “We press, press, press and try to get in the open court and make plays, shoot threes, get to the rim and maybe knock down some free throws.”

Sadie Garling was the engine on a Waterville team full of catalysts. She finished with a game-high 20 points — 10 in the second quarter — and six rebounds.

Whenever MCI (7-7) tried to claw back into contention, Garling stepped up and hit a big shot. In three consecutive trips down the floor late in the first half, Garling hit a pair of 3-pointers from the left wing and connected on her two free throw attempts.

MCI junior Sara Linkletter looks to make a pass as Waterville defenders Madeleine Martin, left, and Jayda Murray apply pressure during a Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class B game Monday afternoon in Pittsfield.

It turned an 11-point Waterville lead into a 29-10 advantage with 2:29 remaining until halftime, a deficit from which there was no coming back for the Huskies — who began the day clinging to the 11th and final Class B North playoff spot.

“Playing full-court pressure helps us get started,” Garling said. “We got a lot of really big tips, and that helps us get some jump shots and layups.”

“Sadie does a little bit of everything for us,” Rodrigue added. “Her extended-range shooting game is unmatched. She creates a lot of mismatches for us where teams can’t play help defense because they have to really stay on her.

“Her teammates do a great job of finding her in transition.”

Madeleine Martin added eight points and four rebounds for the Panthers while Paige St. Pierre and Kali Thompson each chipped in with seven points.

Waterville’s Paige St. Pierre draws several MCI defenders, including Christa Carr, during a Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class B game Monday afternoon in Pittsfield.

Seven different Waterville players scored, in part due to a relentless full-court press that forced MCI into 35 turnovers and delivered easy transition buckets. That same defense also held the Huskies to six or fewer points in the first and third quarters and single digits in three of the four periods.

“We do a good job of sprinting out of our traps, sprinting when the ball goes over our heads. It’s something that we work on every day in practice,” Rodrigue said. “We’re pretty lucky that we have some athletes. We’ve got some kids that can run.”

Waterville opened the game on a 10-0 run over the first 2:23, with Garling scoring five of those points, St. Pierre converting an in-bounds pass for a layup and Martin drilling a trey.

By contrast, MCI turned the ball over on each of its first five possessions to begin the day against the Panther press.

MCI junior Leah Bussell looks to make a move between Waterville defenders Sadie Garling, left, and Kali Thompson during a Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class B game Monday afternoon in Pittsfield.

“It’s a different game from our offense,” Garling said. “We haven’t always been strong on defense, but this year we really changed that. That’s really helped us.”

Senior point guard Sydney Farrar led MCI with 13 points, all but two in the first half.

Travis Barrett — 621-5621

[email protected]

Twitter: @TBarrettGWC


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