Monday, March 10, 2014
NEWPORT — There might not be a boys basketball team playing better in Eastern Maine Class B than Waterville Senior High School right now. Thursday’s 64-47 win at Nokomis was the eighth win in a row for the Purple Panthers, who have jumped from a team on the playoff bubble to a club that will likely host a preliminary round game when the tournament starts.
“They’re working harder,” Waterville coach Jason Briggs said of his team. “They had a lot more in them that we weren’t getting in the first part of the season. They’re playing together. Confidence.”
Waterville (10-5) won Thursday’s game by doing all the dirty work. Prior to the game, Briggs stressed rebounding and perimeter defense, and the Panthers excelled at both.
“Those were the two things we focused on, and they really came through,” Briggs said.
Waterville grabbed 48 rebounds to Nokomis’ 28, and in the first half, the Panthers outrebounded the Warriors (7-8) 31-9. Waterville had 14 offensive rebounds in the first half, and that contributed to its 29-20 halftime lead.
“Rebounds are a hustle, competitive kind of thing. I guess the nature of our kids and the way I’ve coached them, we haven’t done a very good job in that area,” Nokomis coach Carl Parker said.
Owen Brown came off the bench to grab nine rebounds for Waterville.
“Coach said in the beginning (of the game) that someone needs to step up off the bench, and I decided I would take that role,” Brown said.
Early in the game, the Warriors found open shot from the perimeter, and when Spencer Hartsgrove hit a 3-pointer with 2:24 left in the first quarter, Nokomis had a 10-5 lead. Waterville scored the final nine points of the first to take a 17-12 lead, a lead it would never relinquish.
“In the beginning we were giving them open looks, and they were hitting them. Coach (Briggs) called timeout and said get up on them and let them go around us. We’ll rotate and step up,” Brown said.
Added Briggs: “Don’t give them an inch. They’re phenomenal shooters.”
The Panthers had the hot hand in the third quarter. Waterville made five of its eight 3-pointers in the third to expand its lead to 50-32 entering the fourth quarter. Josh Gormley hit four 3-pointers and led the Panthers with 18 points and 11 rebounds. Jordan DeRosby added 16 points, and Chris Hale scored 11.
“They got a lot of open looks, and they hit their open looks. That’s the sign of a good team,” Parker said.
Hartsgrove led Nokomis with 13 points.
Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242