LINCOLN, Maine — It was a game of runs, and fortunately for the Mattanawcook girls basketball team, the Lynx had plenty of them.
The hosts steamrolled out to a 14-point halftime lead only to have Old Town whittle that to only three late in the third quarter, but MA persevered and outscored the Coyotes 21-8 over the final 9:21 to post a 58-39 Big East victory Wednesday night.
Coach Brian McDormand’s club won its sixth straight game to improve to 9-4, keeping its hopes for a home preliminary game well within range, while Old Town fell to 8-6.
Mattanawcook’s 2-3 zone was instrumental in building its early lead, as the smaller Lynx did an effective job of denying entry passes to 6-foot-2 Old Town freshman Courtney Treadwell. She was held to just one first-half field goal.
But the Coyotes, who trailed 27-13 at intermission, refused to back down, and Sarah Wilcox and Treadwell combined for 16 third-quarter points as Old Town clawed back to within three, taking advantage of the Lynx’s man-to-man scheme.
“I knew they’d make a run at us, and luckily we were able to hit some shots tonight,” said McDormand.
After Ashley Abbott’s lay-in made it a 34-31 game with 1:35 left in the third, the Lynx scored the game’s next eight points — including consecutive conventional 3-point plays by Renee Libbey and Brooke Hanscom — to go back up by double digits.
“Yeah, we just kind of came out and there was like zero energy whatsoever. Eventually we picked it up, but at first it was kind of scary,” said Libbey, who led a balanced MA offense with 14 points on 6-for-11 shooting from the floor.
Hanscom scored 14 points, also on 6-11 shooting, while DeRaps had 12, all on 3-pointers.
The Lynx went back to their zone in the fourth quarter, and Old Town could only manage two field goals while DeRaps and Abby Paul connected for three 3-pointers between them.
The Coyotes would get no closer than 11 in the final eight minutes.
“We weren’t executing and we needed to pick it up,” said senior forward Jordynne Hawkins, who did a solid job containing Treadwell underneath.
Wilcox, one of the conference’s toughest guards to contain off the dribble, found almost no room to penetrate inside.
“We tried to contain Sarah Wilcox because she’s a force, tried to keep her away from the basket,” McDormand said.
That tactic helped the Lynx stymie Old Town’s offense, holding the Coyotes to 16-for-42 shooting while connecting on a solid 23-of-48 clip themselves.
Mattanawcook is just as good as any team in the region when its backcourt trio of DeRaps, Hanscom and Libbey are on.
“When they’re hitting shots, they’re tough to beat. Tonight it was a little more balanced,” McDormand said.
Mattanawcook, which was 3-4 earlier this winter, is arguably one of the hottest teams in the Big East and has the inside track toward hosting a preliminary round game next month.
“I think the win against Presque Isle galvanized us a little bit on Monday. Coming from behind down seven with 50 seconds left, it kind of springboarded us,” McDormand said.
With a tough finishing schedule that includes just one game at home, where the Lynx have lost just once, this was virtually a must-win.
“Coach told us right from the get-go not to take them lightly and if we wanted to get a home prelim game we had to win this game,” said Libbey.
Treadwell scored nine points and grabbed six rebounds while Lindsay St. Louis contributed seven points for Old Town.