PITTSFIELD — Not every shot fell, and not every layup went in. From a mentality standpoint, however, the Waterville girls basketball team was clicking from the opening tip.

Maddie Martin scored 17 points and added 10 rebounds, Sadie Garling scored 16 and Jayda Murray had 12, and the Purple Panthers rolled to a 55-27 season-opening win over Maine Central Institute at Wright Gymnasium.

The expectations in Waterville may be pretty high after an undefeated regular season and B North final appearance, but the goals Friday night were pretty simple: get off to a fast start and get the season going on a good note.

Mission accomplished, the Waterville players and coaches alike said.

“Our biggest thing is coming out from the start,” Martin said, “and I feel like we came out from the start, won the first game of the season, and it definitely felt good.”

“The kids came out ready to go, right off the top,” coach Rob Rodrigue said. “We got a little sluggish in the second half, sloppy, we threw it away quite a bit offensively. But we play like that. That’s the pace we want to play at, really. Some ‘organized chaos’ is what we call it.”


That chaos made for a difficult night for the Huskies, who trailed 19-6 after the first quarter, 30-14 at halftime and never got closer.

“We wanted Waterville first game here, because you never know (in) the first game of the season, teams haven’t fine-tuned anything at this point,” said coach Jordan Larlee, whose team was led by 10 points and 14 rebounds from Leah Bussell. “We were hoping for a better outcome, obviously, but Waterville came to play.”

Indeed, the Panthers took the life out of an upset bid early. Martin had five points in the first two minutes as Waterville jumped out to an 11-3 lead, and she added four more as the Panthers finished the quarter on an 8-0 run.

“Our momentum was really there for me,” Martin said. “We’re playing so well together that it just pushes me harder, and I hope I’m pushing the rest of my team harder.”

Martin added six more points in the second quarter as the Panthers expanded their lead. There was no letdown in the second half; Waterville scored 10 of the period’s first 14 points.

“Our biggest goal for every game is to just push and keep our foot down until the game’s over,” Martin said. “It’s zero-zero at halftime. Keep pushing until the game’s over.”


The senior forward was a big factor in that. She also added six steals, and won a loose ball battle by the basket before finding Garling for an easy basket, a play Rodrigue said highlighted her versatility.

“It’s fun watching her play,” he said. “That play in the corner, we don’t have many 5-10 kids that can make that kind of play.”

It was hardly a one-player effort, however. Garling (four steals), Murray (two steals) and Kali Thompson led the effort both in full-court pressure and on the boards to either deny or limit MCI opportunities. The Panthers also kept dangerous guard Sara Linkletter, who had four points in the first quarter, off the board for the next three.

“Defensively, the kids work really hard,” Rodrigue said. “Most times they’re where they need to be, and if they’re not, they’re sprinting to their positions and working at it. We put a big emphasis on it. We spend a lot of time on our defensive effort.”

At times the Huskies cracked the pressure for scoring chances, but Larlee knew the successes were far too infrequent.

“With this game we found out we can play with anybody in B,” he said, “but we have to play every single moment of every game. We’re too inconsistent at that point. But I think it will come, especially as we go throughout the season.”

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