Messalonskee takes battle of Eagles, 68-55
The way Messalonskee was shooting the ball in Thursday’s Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference boys high school game, it was hard to believe the team was winless coming in.
The visitors were seven of nine from 3-point range in the first half in picking up a 68-55 victory over Mt. Ararat in a battle of winless squads.
“They were as red hot as I have seen a team,” said Mt. Ararat coach Aaron Watson after his team fell to 0-8 and visits unbeaten Hampden Academy on Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. “What are you going to do? When it rains it pours. We knew we wanted to protect the paint from their dribble-drives, and we stopped that. We changed tempos, but really never got into a flow like we had against Lewiston on Tuesday (a 53-49 loss).”
Mt. Ararat led 11-8 after Mason Griffin’s putback finished off a 6-0 run. From there, Messalonskee (1-7) got hot, red hot, hitting six consecutive shots, including five treys, for a 25-11 lead. Riley Wentworth came off the bench to hit three straight from long distance, with Gage Landry burying two 3- pointers for eight first-half points.
“Shooting the ball is one of the stronger parts of our game,” said Landry, whose team led 33- 25 at the half and 46-36 after three quarters. “It was huge to get us up in the game, and we pretty much stayed up by 10 points the rest of the way from there.”
The shots fall
With Mt. Ararat leading 5-2, Wentworth drained back-toback 3-pointers for an 8-5 Messalonskee lead.
Brett Martin and DJ Cole scored a basket each to put the hosts in the lead, 9-8.
Down by three, Luke Vigue tied the game, beginning a 17-0 run for Messalonskee. Landry followed suit, and after a putback by Elijah Steele, Wentworth, Dayshawn Roberts and Landry again hit a trey each for a 25-11 advantage with 7:10 left in the first half.
Coming out of a timeout, Cole stepped back to hit a 3-point shot, but Landry answered moments later for Messalonskee. Mt. Ararat received a second trey from Cole, and Martin scored four tough inside points to get the Eagles within eight at the half.
Wentworth’s fourth 3 staked Messalonskee to a 46-32 lead late in the third quarter, but the hosts battled back to get within 10 after 24 minutes.
Messalonskee didn’t let off the pedal in the fourth, extending its lead to a game-high 18 points, 57-39, on a pair of free throws by Roberts.
Mt. Ararat made a run as Josh Wright scored nine of his team-high 15 points in the fourth quarter and Tyler Charron drained a pair of 3-pointers, but Messalonskee made all 13 of its free throws to close out the 68-55 victory.
“We’re all frustrated, but we’ll still come to practice on Friday and have a great practice,” said Watson. “We’re a team that won’t quit. We have fought and tried to stay with it, and I hope we will continue to do that.”
Mt. Ararat shot 40 percent (22 of 54) from the floor, but struggled from the free-throw line, making just six of 24. Martin had 13 points and seven rebounds, Wright dished out six assists and Brandon Johansen had six rebounds.
Landry paced Messalonskee with 13 points, with Wentworth adding 12, Steele 11 and Vigue 10. Steele had a double-double with 11 rebounds, while Aaron Gagne chipped in eight points and six caroms.
Messalonskee finished 20 of 53 from the floor (37 percent), but made 10 of 15 3-point attempts and 18 of 22 from the charity stripe.
Messalonskee 68, Mt. Ararat 55
Messalonskee — Luke Vigue 3-3-10,
Travis Stacey 1-0-3, Elijah Steele 3-5-11,
Gage Landry 4-2-13, Jake Fenlason 1-0-2,
Aaron Gagne 3-2-8, Riley Wentworth 4-0-
12, Carl Smith 0-0-0, Dayshawn Roberts
1-6-9, Ryan Erskine 0-0-0. Totals — 20-
Mt. Ararat — Alex LaPierre 0-1-1, Josh
Wright 7-0-18, DJ Cole 2-1-7, Brandon
Johansen 1-0-2, Brett Martin 6-1-13, Joe
Van Note 0- 0- 0, Jason Tome 1- 0- 2,
Mason Griffin 2-3-7, Tyler Roberts 0-0-0,
Tyler Charron 3-0-8. Totals — 22-6-55.
3- pointers — ( Mess) Vigue, Stacy,
Landry 3, Wentworth 4, Roberts; (MA)
Wright, Cole 2, Charron 2.
Records — Messalonskee 1-7, Mt. Ararat
Next for Mt. Ararat — Tuesday at Hampden Academy, 6:30 p.m.