SKOWHEGAN — Mike LeBlanc could only shake his head. The Skowhegan girls basketball coach was asked whether he had seen a performance like Jaycie Christopher’s on Friday night, and LeBlanc just smiled.

“We just talked about that,” he said, nodding to his team’s locker room. “I don’t know if I have.”

What he and everyone else at Skowhegan Area High School saw was Christopher lead her team in every way possible to a Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference victory over Erskine, scoring 40 points and grabbing 21 rebounds as Skowhegan beat the Eagles 63-46.

Christopher first kept Skowhegan close as Erskine started out hot, and then allowed her team to pull away as the Eagles cooled off in the second quarter. She cut through the lane, knocked down shots from behind the arc, and overwhelmed every defense the Eagles threw her direction.

“They were double-teaming her all over the court,” LeBlanc said. “And when they did make a mistake on her, she either drained the shot or she found an open teammate. I’m very proud of her today.”

Christopher scored 16 of Skowhegan’s first 18 points, which proved necessary as Erskine worked to a 17-16 first-quarter lead. But while the Eagles scored only four points in the second quarter, Christopher scored eight of Skowhegan’s 21, and she added 14 of Skowhegan’s 17 points in the third to easily notch her third 30-point game of the season.

“I’ve worked with Jaycie in the summertime. Great kid, great player,” said Erskine coach Bob Witts, whose team was led by 18 points and seven steals from Jordan Linscott. “We did everything we could try to stop her, and she played a game like men against boys.”

Christopher said she felt she had a good game coming from the shootaround.

“There was a lot of emotion going into this game, I know Coach Witts really well,” said the sophomore, who shot 16-of-23 from the field. “Right from the beginning, I just felt good. I knew I had to shoot the ball, and I was really glad that my teammates made a lot of good shots.”

Christopher called it a big win for her team, which improved to 3-2 while handing Erskine (3-1), one of Class A North’s best early stories, its first loss.

“We’ve all season been saying we have to prove the people wrong,” she said. “Everybody was like ‘You lost five seniors,’ so we saw this as an opportunity to make a name for ourselves. But we’re not satisfied.”

Early on, Erskine looked every bit the part of an unbeaten time, as seven Linscott points and a hot start from the field allowed the Eagles to weather Christopher’s impact en route to the lead at the first break.

But the shots didn’t fall in the second quarter, and Skowhegan jumped in front for good. Six points from Emma Duffy (11 points) keyed a 10-0 run to start the quarter, and after the senior hit a 3-pointer to make it 31-19, Christopher had Skowhegan’s next six points to make it 37-21 at the half.

Christopher hit back-to-back 3-pointers early in the third to ensure there would be no comeback.

“I always try to be the best team player I can be,” she said. “I don’t care if I score two points or I score 40 points. As long as we win, that’s all that really matters to me.”

LeBlanc also pointed out Christopher’s ability to facilitate on offense, and get a supporting cast going that was having trouble early on.

“(She) will find the open man most of the time,” he said. “She’s had the ability, everybody knows she has the ability. I think she’s probably one of the better players in the conference, and we’re going to lean on her because she’s that special of a player.”

Christopher gave credit to her teammates for helping to set up her performance.

“My teammates work really hard, and they deserve to be recognized just as much as I do because they set screens, they rebound, they do the dirty work,” she said. “(The things that) don’t really get noticed, but it’s really important to me.”

Erskine fell for the first time this season, but Witts was in good spirits after the game. The Eagles are young, and their coach said these are the games that can provide learning experiences.

“A lot of our youth showed tonight by some dumb mistakes that we made,” he said. “But (I’m) not disappointed. It’s a team that’s growing.”

Mackenzie Roderick and Emma Stred added six points apiece for Erskine. Alyssa Savage led the team with eight rebounds, while Linscott added seven.

“You take the good out of this, you take the bad out of it, and we move on tomorrow,” Witts said. “We’ll watch the tape, learn by the tape, and I think by the end of the year we should be pretty good.”

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