PITTSFIELD — In a typical season, Maine Central Institute coach Josh Tardy and Erskine Academy coach Tim Bonsant would get their teams together for a practice just before the start of the boys basketball tournament. At one end of the court Bonsant would work with the big men, at the other Tardy would be with the guards, and the session would end with a pizza party.

With the pandemic, that couldn’t happen this season, obviously. So it felt fitting Class A Erskine and Class B MCI would meet in the first round of the central Maine Class A/B tournament.

“Of course we end up playing each other,” Tardy said.

MCI pulled away in the second half to take a 49-39 win, and the No. 7 Huskies (7-6) will play at No. 2 Skowhegan in the quarterfinals Friday. No. 10 Erskine ends the season at 3-9.

Timur Sabic led MCI with a game-high 27 points, 19 in the second half.

“(Sabic) was tremendous in the second half getting to the hole, getting fouls, making layups. We got some really good looks. They didn’t fall in tonight,” Bonsant said.

Ahead 22-18 at the half, MCI went on an 11-0 run midway through the third quarter to gain some breathing room. Ahead 43-31 early in the fourth quarter, the Huskies decided to spread the floor and take some more time with each possession. There’s an art to stall ball, to bleeding the clock, and while the Huskies didn’t run it perfectly, they did it well enough to maintain their lead. Sebic found space to drive the lane and attack, often getting a layup or free throws.

“We knew they were going to come at us with pressure. We didn’t have a perfect ending to the game, but we go the ball into our offense just enough,” Tardy said. “We felt if they were going to come out and play us, some of our best offense is on dribble penetration, so we thought if we spread the floor we could get Timor going to the rim.”

Erskine’s Dan Page grabs a rebound away from MCI’s Jason Pyles during a Class A/B prelim game of the central Maine basketball tournament Wednesday in Pittsfield. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel Buy this Photo

MCI hit just three 3-pointers in the game, all coming during that 11-0 third quarter run. Gavin McArthur (12 points) hit a pair, with Sebic adding a three to give the Huskies a 37-23 lead with 2:22 left in the quarter.

Erskine rallied, closing the quarter with an 8-3 run, but throughout the game the Eagles could not take advantage of opportunities. Erskine went 8 for 18 at the line, and missed numerous layups.

“That’s the game, right?” Bonsant said.  “It seemed like there was a lid on the hoop tonight.”

Added Tardy: “When we came out of our zone, we played good man. We helped down on the bigs, and we rebounded. It’s been one of our Achilles, and I think tonight we held them to one opportunity usually, and we made some shots.”

Logan Tenney led Erskine with 11 points, while Dan Page added 10.

 

 


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