BANGOR, Maine — With its winning streak now spanning 13 games over the last month and a half, the Bangor boys basketball team is feeling somewhat comfortable with its development barely two weeks removed from the Eastern Maine Class A tournament.
“We’re playing pretty well,” said Rams’ senior center Clark Noonan, who scored 15 points and grabbed nine rebounds to help Bangor overpower Skowhegan 66-46 at Red Barry Gymnasium on Friday night.
“We’re really limiting our turnovers, and we’re showing teams what we can do. I think we’re scoring just as much as we did earlier in the season but we’re making better decisions on the court. We’re coming together as a team.”
Bangor (14-2) had just 12 turnovers on the night, and controlled this contest from the moment junior guard Luke Hetterman made a three-quarter court shot to close out the first quarter with the Rams holding a 20-14 lead.
Later in the game, it was junior forward Zach Blodgett’s turn to provide the energy, as he scored 13 points in the third quarter while Bangor extended a 10-point halftime cushion to a 55-31 lead entering the final period.
“We were very lethargic at the end of the first half,” said Bangor coach Roger Reed, “so I told them it was important to come out in the second half and get the ball inside and kick it back out. We did that a few times and started getting some pretty good shots.”
Blodgett hit a 3-pointer 17 seconds into the third quarter to give Bangor a 34-21 lead. After Skowhegan’s Nate Thistle countered with a basket from the baseline, Blodgett sparked an 11-1 Bangor run with a three-point play off a pass from Tristan Thomas, a 3-point shot from the right wing and a follow-up shot that gave the Rams a 45-24 cushion with 2:59 left in the period.
“In the first half we really didn’t outhustle them, they were hustling after the ball,” said Blodgett, who finished with a game-high 17 points and seven rebounds. “So at halftime coach said we had to buckle down and get the defensive rebounds and push it out on the fast break.
“We were only up by 10, and we really wanted to get a cushion.”
The Rams’ lead peaked at 62-33 on a 3-pointer by Cal Winchester early in the fourth quarter.
“We’ve still got some things to work out,” said Blodgett, “We’ve got to come out at the start of games more aggressive. Usually we’re a second-half team, but we’ve got to start games that way, too.”
Maxx Alexander added 11 points for the Rams, including seven in the first quarter.
Bangor dominated the backboards against Skowhegan, outrebounding the 9-7 Indians 43-15.
“We have size on almost every team we play,” said Noonan. “Our coaches emphasize boxing out and rebounding. That’s how we win games, and I think it really affected this game.”
The taller Rams also relegated Skowhegan’s offense to the perimeter, and the Indians shot just 30 percent (16 of 53) from the field. Paul Verville, Nate Thistle and Lucas Fortier each scored nine points for coach Troy Scott’s club.
“We emphasized defense and rebounding coming into the game,” said Reed, whose team will play at Mt. Blue of Farmington next Tuesday before closing out the season at home against Brewer next Thursday.
“And when Clark and Zach are around the basket, we get a lot more of the bounces.”