January 23, 2013

HIGH SCHOOL GIRLS BASKETBALL NOTES: Messalonskee fighting for playoff spot

By Travis Lazarczyk tlazarczyk@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer

With just five games left in the regular season, the Messalonskee High School girls basketball team is starting to calculate playoff math. The Eagles are 6-7, and approximately nine points behind Cony for the ninth and final playoff spot in the Eastern A tournament.

WEEKLY HONOR ROLL

• Lawrence’s Nia Irving scored 24 points in a 63-52 win over Brunswick.
• Anna MacKenzie scored 20 points for Nokomis is a 54-50 overtime win at Morse. MacKenzie had 16 points and 16 boards in a 71-50 win over Leavitt.
• Taylor Shaw scored 23 points for Nokomis in a 71-50 win over Leavitt.
• Colleen O’Donnell scored 17 points for Waterville in a 43-40 loss to Lincoln.
• Skowhegan’s Cheyenne Malloy made five 3-pointers and had three steals in a 49-47 overtime win over Mt. Blue.
• Kelsey Mayo scored 10 points and grabbed 11 rebounds for Messalonskee in a 55-44 win over Erskine.
• Mikayla Turner had 14 points and nine rebounds for Messalonskee in the win over Erskine.
• Madison’s Bronte Elias had 13 points and 13 rebounds in a 50-38 win at Wiscasset.
• Blayke Morin scored 14 points and grabbed 10 rebounds for Rangeley in a 63-30 win at Valley.

KENNEBEC JOURNAL/MORNING SENTINEL TOP 10

1. McAuley
2. Deering
3. Cheverus
4. Scarborough
5. Presque Isle
6. Edward Little
7. Lake Region
8. Mt. Ararat
9. Spruce Mountain
10. York
 

With some games to play against playoff contenders, Messalonskee has the potential to earn a spot in the postseason, beginning with Friday's game at Lawrence.

"We have a lot of points on our schedule, that's the good thing," Messalonskee coach Keith Derosby said. "They're all winnable if we play well."

Four of Messalonskee's final five opponents -- Lawrence, Brewer, Skowhegan and Mt. Blue -- are ahead of the Eagles in the standings, and a win over any of them would boost Messalonskee's playoff chances. The key is playing a complete game, Derosby said.

"When we shoot the ball well, we're not defending like we should, and vice-versa," Derosby said. "We're shoring up our defense right now."

Derosby said he liked the way the Eagles finished Tuesday's 61-49 loss to Bangor.

"We need to come out with the same intensity we finished (Tuesday's) game with," Derosby said.

With one win in their last four games, the Eagles also need to remain confident, Derosby said.

"Sometimes that doubt creeps in after a few loses," Derosby said. "These girls need to realize they can play with anybody."

* * *

Madison is in first place in Western C, and while the Bulldogs would love to retain the top spot, the goal for the rest of the regular season is to be playing well entering the tournament.

"You've got to look at just getting into the tournament," Madison coach Al Veneziano said. "It's pretty wide open, I think."

The 11-3 Bulldogs are ahead of second-place Boothbay by the slim margin of .3703 points. The top three teams in Western C get byes out of the preliminary round right to the regional quarterfinals at the Augusta Civic Center, and Madison looks to be in good shape to stay in the top three.

"We'd love to be in the top three and get that week to practice and work on things," Veneziano said. "At this point, we're making sure we're playing well. We're working on end of game situations, to put games away a little bit."

Senior guard Sam Bruce leads the Bulldogs, averaging 16 points and 2.7 assists per game.

"Sam's a scorer," Veneziano said. "She works very hard to get open."

Madison hosts Hall-Dale on Friday.

* * *

Forest Hills is 10-2, but coach Mike LeBlanc sees some things the Tigers can improve on before the regional tournament next month. For starters, the Tigers need to do a better job at the free throw line. As a team, Forest Hills is shooting just 38 percent at the line.

"We're just looking to improve every game, so we execute when we get to Augusta (for the regionals)," LeBlanc said. "We've had games where we've played very well, and we've had letdowns. We need to be consistent."

Junior guard Kori Coro leads the Tigers in scoring, but offensive balance has been a team strength.

"It's a different person every night," LeBlanc said.

One player who has excelled in a new roll is junior guard Dana McNally. The Tigers' leading scorer over the past few seasons, McNally is now more of a distributor, and she's doing a great job getting her teammates involved with the offense, LeBlanc said.

"She's more of a floor leader, and she generates a lot for us," LeBlanc said. "When she plays well and does the things she's capable of doing, we do much better."

(Continued on page 2)

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