WINSLOW — The Maine Central Institute boys basketball team’s fast start was in danger of being erased, and one of its architects, guard Gavin McArthur, was out with a shoulder injury.

Huskies coach Josh Tardy needed someone to step up. And Owen Williams was ready.

The senior guard scored 37 points, 26 in the second half alone, to lead the Huskies to a 71-45 victory over the Black Raiders in a matchup of two teams near the top of Class B North. Both teams moved to 5-2.

MCI’s Harrison Sites, right, grabs a rebound away from Winslow’s Jason Reynolds on Monday in Winslow. Morning Sentinel photo by Rich Abrahamson Buy this Photo

“Winslow is our rival, they’re a (Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference) powerhouse,” Tardy said. “These kids are competitors, they know each other, they have a lot of respect for each other, it’s a healthy rivalry. We knew it was a big game, so we were up for it.”

And right from the start, though the good feeling was fading when McArthur dislocated his shoulder going for a rebound with 5:45 left in the second quarter, and it had really diminished by the time the Black Raiders turned what was a 10-point disparity earlier in the quarter into a manageable 30-26 deficit by the end of the half.

Enter Williams, though, who had 11 points in the first half but had plenty more saved for the second. He hit a turnaround jumper, got a steal and score, and drained a 3-pointer to turn a 38-30 lead into a 45-34 advantage with 2:02 left in the third.

Williams was feeling it, and there was nothing Winslow could do to slow him down. After scoring MCI’s last three points of the quarter, he opened the fourth with another three. And then another, with 7:28 left. Another came 29 seconds later. And yet another, with 6:36 to go.

As if that wasn’t enough, he got a putback to prompt Winslow to call for a timeout to stop the bleeding with 5:58 left. Williams had scored 16 points in 3 minutes and 7 seconds, and the score was now out of hand at 65-36.

“I’ve been around high school basketball for a while,” Tardy said, “and I don’t know that I’ve seen a half like that in about 15 years. That’s as good a half as I’ve seen. It was an incredible performance.”

Harrison Sites, MCI’s post presence who played a vital role in the Huskies’ hot start, had the best seat in the house — under the basket as one Williams shot after another swished in.

“You see him hit the first two or three, and you’re like ‘Okay, that’s pretty good,'” he said. “And then they just kept falling. It was ridiculous.”

Williams, who added six rebounds and four steals, said he was just trying to step up for a hurt teammate.

“That was really fun,” he said. “Teammates just got me the ball where I wanted it, and it was just fun playing out there with all of us, having a great time beating a good team.”

Williams said he’d never felt a rhythm like that.

“I was taking what the defense was giving me,” he said. “I just (tried) not to force it and let the game come to me.”

Winslow’s Jason Reynolds fires a shot over MCI defenders Isaac Bussell, left, and Dominic Wilson on Monday in Winslow. Morning Sentinel photo by Rich Abrahamson Buy this Photo

Williams’s run allowed MCI to take control of a game they had from the opening tip. Sites, who finished with 12 points and 14 rebounds, dominated the glass and had eight first-quarter points as MCI scored the first seven points and took a 17-9 lead into the second.

“I’ve always been told all my life, defense and rebounding. Especially rebounding, because on offense, it’s a whole (new) shot that you get,” Sites said. “That’s huge to the team. And kids that need to get hot, if they miss one or two, you can keep dishing to them and they’ll get hot off that.”

“(Sites has) been a little bit of a secret. The jig might be up on that,” said Tardy, whose team also got nine points from Dominic Wilson and six rebounds from Caleb Willis. “He’s a tremendous high school athlete. His effort is unbelievable, and he is just a strong human being.”

Winslow coach Ken Lindlof said the slow start put the Black Raiders in too much of a bind, even before Williams’s spree.

“The first half problem was not coming out with energy and allowing them to dominate the boards and get offensive rebounds and second shots,” he said. “We just never got it going offensively, and I think that affected our defense.”

Colby Pomeroy led Winslow with 16 points, 14 coming in the first half as he tried to rally the Black Raiders back from the early deficit.

“I think we forgot what got us to (our record), which is being a high-energy, kind of gritty team,” Lindlof said. “We don’t necessarily have a lot of firepower, but we find ways to manufacture points and get stops. Today, none of that happened.”

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