READFIELD — It’s been a heck of a regular season for the Maranacook boys basketball team. And the Black Bears picked a heck of a way to end it.

Cash McClure scored 28 points, Tim Worster added 18 and the Black Bears wrapped up both the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class B title and the No. 1 seed in Class B South, burning Maine Central Institute both in transition and beyond the arc in a 90-72 victory Wednesday night.

A team that has prided itself on never overlooking a team or a game was locked in from the very start. Maranacook (16-2) never trailed, salted the game away with a 17-2 run to end the third, and completed a statement victory, its 12th in a row, on its senior night.

“It was a great time,” McClure said. “It’s really important. Like Coach (Travis Magnusson) said, we’re peaking at the right moment, we’re playing our best right now, and we had to keep that going through the last game of the season and hopefully carry that on into the playoffs.”

MCI coach Josh Tardy said the game got away from his team, but acknowledged that the Huskies (12-6) were playing a red-hot opponent.

“They’re an impressive team,” said Tardy, whose team got 25 points from Owen Williams and 13 from Harrison Sites. “They’re unselfish, they attack the rim. They sped us up. My guys played hard, they ran into a buzzsaw tonight. I’m proud that we battled, but we just couldn’t get over the hump.”

If there was a point when it looked like MCI might, it was late in the third quarter, when Gavin McArthur (11 points) followed up a jumper with a corner 3-pointer to make it 51-45 and prompt a Maranacook timeout with 3:39 to go.

It looked like a momentum shift. It was merely a speed bump, and one setting up perhaps the Black Bears’ most impressive flourish of the night. Joey Dupont (13 points, 11 rebounds) had consecutive baskets and McClure had two of his own, the second coming off a great feed from Casey Cormier.

Williams knocked down a jumper to stop the run, but Maranacook just started another one. McClure followed a Trevor Rioux steal with a three-point play, and the Black Bears’ pressure resulted in three straight steals — two by Skyler Boucher, one by McClure — that turned into three straight Eljias Bergdahl transition baskets, running the lead up to 68-47 in the closing seconds of the period.

“We stayed confident. In the timeout, coach just said we needed to pick up our energy, our energy was slacking at that point,” McClure said. “We proved it at the end of the third quarter, what energy can do for us.”

The Black Bears had no trouble adapting to the flow of the game. Maranacook took control with its outside shooting, knocking down eight 3-pointers in the first half — three coming from Worster — en route to 11 for the game. Early in the third, Dupont’s work on the boards made the difference. And late in the third, when the Black Bears needed to put the game away, pressure and transition provided the key.

“The crazy thing is we’ve been playing that way for about a month now,” said Magnusson, whose team had a fourth scorer in double figures in Cormier with 11. “We really haven’t had an off night. We’ve just been playing with that intensity, that energy. Some nights we don’t shoot as well as other nights, but we’ve been playing the right way.

“We’re really peaking right now. Hopefully we just keep that going next week. We know we’re going to have a tough team, whoever it is.”

Magnusson said he’s not worried about a rust period affecting his team, with eight days of rest awaiting before the tournament opener.

“Not at all,” he said. “We want to prepare for whoever we’re playing. Our practices are harder than our games anyway, so we’re going to be ready to go, for sure.”

Sites added nine rebounds and Williams had seven for MCI, while Ryan Friend added nine points on a trio of 3-pointers. Tardy said the game provided a cautionary tale for his team, which has its own high hopes in the approaching B North tournament.

“B North has some exceptional teams,” he said. “But I look at (Maranacook), they play sort of at a Caribou-type speed, and they’re deep. We’ve got to figure out a way to play against teams that are quicker than us. We’ve got to find a way to control pace, and we didn’t tonight. The score showed that.”

Comments are not available on this story.

Kennebec Journal & Morning Sentinel news

Get news and events from your towns in your inbox every Friday.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.