BANGOR, Maine — Having played two games Monday in the Capital City Tournament in Augusta, the Messalonskee girls basketball team’s practice time has been few and far between the last several days.
The Eagles of Oakland looked a bit rusty early on in a KVAC Class A north game against Bangor Tuesday afternoon, but coach Brenda Beckwith’s club shook off the cobwebs in the second half and pulled away for a 60-49 victory at Red Barry Gym.
Messalonskee (6-1) struggled to adapt to Bangor’s 1-3-1 zone look early on, and the Eagles appeared uncomfortable offensively. The Rams took advantage, as Hillary Throckmorton scored the game’s first seven points.
“Give Bangor credit, they attacked us, went to the basket hard and rebounded well,” said Beckwith.
The Eagles, one of the top shooting teams in Class A, were held to 21-for-68 (30.8 percent) from the floor.
“We do usually shoot a lot better than that,” said Beckwith.
After leading by just one after one quarter, Messalonskee did a better job on the glass in the second quarter, during which it outrebounded the Rams 14-7 and outscored them 12-3 over the final 2:33 of the period.
“We had a little bit of a letdown at the end of the first half. You can’t do that against a good team,” said Tennett, whose club dips to 2-5.
The Rams were victimized by second-chance opportunities as time wound down in the first half. Kaitlyn Deering’s putback with just under a minute to play gave Messalonskee the lead for good while a fast-break layup by junior point guard Ari Perry and a putback from Jess Bridges put the visitors up 29-24 at the break.
The Eagles consistently pulled away throughout the second half, as they not only got accustomed to Bangor’s zone, but turned up their own defensive pressure and forced 11 turnovers.
“We just executed better in the second half. W definitely got more steals. We were more aggressive,” said Perry, who scored five of her nine points in the third quarter.
Messalonskee would stretch its lead as high as 16 in the second half.
“We slowed down and just got better shots and better things happened for us,” said Perry.
The Eagles also exhibited great patience on the offensive end once they got acclimated to Bangor’s zone, generating better looks at the hoop.
“Once we adapted to it we were able to get our shots off. We don’t see a lot of zones, usually man-to-man,” Perry said.
Deering also grabbed nine rebounds while Bridges finished with 10 points and six boards and Stephanie Haish eight points and six rebounds in Beckwith’s balanced offense.
Perry, Hannah Dexter and Bridges combined for eight steals.
Tennett’s Rams, led by Throckmorton’s 14 points, had one of their better offensive outputs of the season (19-for-48, 40 percent).
“I’m proud of the girls, this is by far the best game we’ve played,” said Tennett. “They played very hard.”
Meagan Doucette contributed nine points while Stephanie Comstock had seven for Bangor.