December 14, 2013

HIGH SCHOOL GIRLS BASKETBALL: Winslow starts fast, beats Waterville

Black Raiders make 8 3-pointers in win vs. Purple Panthers.

By Matt DiFilippo mdifilippo@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer

WINSLOW — After Winslow opened the season with a strong first quarter against Maine Central Institute, coach Lindsey Welch said it was the best first quarter the Black Raiders had played in a long time.

After Saturday evening, there’s a new standard for strong first quarters in Winslow.

The Raiders hit four 3-pointers in a 19-point first quarter. Waterville couldn’t get closer than nine points the rest of the way, and Winslow cruised to a 61-35 Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class B girls basketball victory.

“We lost at Waterville by three last year,” said Winslow junior Devin Fitzgibbons, who hit five 3-pointers and scored a game-high 20 points. “And the year before, at Waterville, we lost by two. So we really were ready to win.”

“We just didn’t play great basketball (last year against Waterville),” Welch said. “They just outworked us and outhustled us, and we knew coming in today that that wasn’t going to happen again. We were over that hump, and we just wanted the revenge.”

Winslow made eight of its 17 three-point attempts in the game, and dropped in four bombs in the first quarter alone. With the Raiders ahead 7-6 in the first quarter, Alyssa Wood (10 points) hit a long jumper and a 3-pointer to make it 12-6. Fitzgibbons followed with a 3, and freshman Ciara Leclair drained a 3 from the left corner while getting fouled, and made the free throw for a four-point play. That made it 19-6, and it was 19-8 at the end of the first quarter.

“We moved the ball a lot, and we were very unselfish,” Fitzgibbons said. “We only shot when we had open shots, and I think that worked really well against their zone.”

With the boys game following as part of a doubleheader, the crowd was bigger and livelier than usual, as the fans got pumped up about the rivalry and stayed around to see both games. The way the Raiders (3-1) were shooting, Winslow fans had plenty of reason to make noise.

“We feed really well off the crowd,” Fitzgibbons said, “and once we start doing well, we get more on our toes on defense. Once our offense starts flowing, our defense is automatically better.”

Waterville’s top two scorers were Colleen O’Donnell (13 points, 10 rebounds) and Jordan Jabar (11 points). O’Donnell fouled out in the fourth quarter, and Jabar missed most of the first half with foul trouble.

“Our kids are young,” Waterville coach Rob Rodrigue said. “I’m very pleased with the effort of my team. (Winslow) shot the ball well. That’s what I told the kids: ‘Some nights, they’re just going to be hitting.’”

Rodrigue said he still felt the Purple Panthers (1-3) were in the game at the half, trailing 34-19. But Winslow came out strong in the third quarter, and opened the lead to 53-27 at the start of the fourth.

Winslow has two big homes games this week, as the Raiders face Leavitt and Maranacook. Waterville will try to get back on track Tuesday night against Erskine.

“I think we have an opportunity this year to be successful,” Rodrigue said. “I think we have some good pieces there. But we’ve just got to continue to work hard in the gym, and compete every night.”

Matt DiFilippo — 861-9243mdifilippo@centralmaine.comTwitter: @Matt_DiFilippo

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