SOUTH CHINA – For a quarter, it seemed like the Erskine Academy boys basketball team could never miss. For much of the game, Mt. Blue couldn’t make a basket.

With six 3-pointers in the first quarter, Erskine built a lead it would never relinquish, taking a 52-37 Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference win. Erskine completes the regular season at 12-6, while Mt. Blue is 11-6 with one game left.

“Erskine played really well, and we didn’t fight hard enough in the beginning,” Cougars coach Travis Magnusson said. “When we play well, we’ve got an edge, we’ve got intensity, and we don’t have that right now.”

Mt. Blue’s James Anderson (11) battles for the ball with Erskine’s Braden Soule during a Class A North game Tuesday night in South China. Morning Sentinel photo by Michael G. Seamans

Dagan Savage made three 3-pointers in the first quarter as the Eagles pulled out to a 21-4 lead. Erskine led 30-11 at the half, and led by 21 points late in the third quarter before Mt. Blue made a run.

“We knew they weren’t going away. They’re a very well-coached team,” Erskine coach Tim Bonsant said. “They’ve got some quality wins on the year.”

With leading scorer James Anderson (six points) and starter Randy Barker both fouling out early in the fourth quarter, the Cougars still made a run. A pair of Garrett Reynolds foul shots cut Erskine’s lead to 47-37 with 2:13 to play.

Led by Braden Soule (8 for 12) and Austin Dunn (11 for 13), the Eagles were strong at the line. Fourteen of Erskine’s 16 fourth quarter points came at the line, and the team made 25 of 34 free throws on the game.

Erskine’s Jakob Mills (45) rejects a shot from Mt. Blue’s Hunter Donald during a Class A North game Tuesday night in South China. Michael G. Seamans

Mt. Blue, on the other hand, struggled at the line, going 2 for 13 in the first half and 11 for 31 for the game.

“It’s a confidence thing,” Magnusson said. “When things are going well, we make them.”

Dunn led Erskine with 14 points, while Soule added 12. Gavin Blanchard grabbed 12 rebounds for the Eagles.

Reynolds led the Cougars with 11 points.

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