READFIELD — A pair of young teams still searching for an identity put on a pretty good show Tuesday night.
Maranacook, minus a couple of starters due to injury, held off Erskine down the stretch for a 57-51 victory in a matchup of Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class B teams.
The Black Bears led nearly from start to finish but couldn’t shake the Eagles, who rallied from 10 points down in the fourth quarter and three times cut the lead to a point. Maranacook (1-1) got strong games from some of its younger players but in the end, veterans Taylor Wilbur and Cam Brochu made key baskets in the fourth quarter. Brochu scored nine of his 16 points in the final period, including a clutch 3-pointer from the left corner to make it 48-44.
“We’re just playing as a team,” said Wilbur, who scored a game-high 18 points. “We’re hurting with Kent (Mohlar) and Caleb (Jackson) out but our freshmen are coming in, and Cam Brochu’s playing well and Brad (Worster) is playing well. If we just play as a team we’re good.”
The Bears got a nice lift from freshman guard Max McQuillen, who connected on three 3-pointers and finished with 10 points, Sophomore Jason Brooks added seven points and made a pair of free throws with 21 seconds left to seal the game for Maranacook.
Erskine (0-2) never quit. The Eagles return just one experienced player in senior Jared Gartley and he helped lead the way in the final quarter with seven of his team-high 15 points.
“It is definitely progress,” Erskine coach Ben Willoughby said. “We’re very young and inexperienced and that makes two games we’ve played to last few possessions. I’m extremely happy with our effort.”
The Eagles cut the lead to 50-49 on Gartley’s 3 from the right side with a minute left. Brochu answered with a layup off a pass from Wilbur, then Brooks hit a free throw to make it 53-49. Tyler Bailey cut the lead to two with a pair of free throws with 30 seconds left but the Eagles were called for an intentional foul. Brooks made both shots and the Bears retained the ball to put the game away.
“It’s nice that our guys were rewarded with a win,” Maranacook coach Rob Schmidt said. “We’re a little short-staffed and we had a lot of guys come through and have good minutes.”
To compound matters, both Brochu and senior starter Richard Hall were in foul trouble. That made McQuillen’s basket that much more meaningful. The 5-foot-5 guard hit back-to-back 3s from the right side in the second quarter to give Maranacook a 24-13 lead. He added another 3 early in the third quarter.
“He hit some big shots,” Schmidt said. “He’s very athletic and he was disciplined enough to stay wide and on ball reversal we found him.”
The Eagles trailed 28-19 at the half but outscored the Bears 32-29 over the final 16 minutes. They made 26 of 50 attempts from the floor and were patient on offense in the second half.
“When we’re patient and getting shots, we’re so much better,” Willoughby said. “Turnovers in the first half played a big role in us getting down and having to come back.”