POLAND — With a 6-foot-6, 6-foot-6 and 6-foot-5 trio occupying the paint at any given time, the Kennebunk boys’ basketball team is bound to see its share of open 3-pointers this winter.
Poland was the first team to discover that concession isn’t necessarily such a great idea. The Rams rained down six bonus balls in the third quarter Wednesday night — the first five consecutively, in a span of 2:29 — and sped away to a 66-57 WMC victory at Derek Pierce Gym.
“It was an even game with the exception of a four-minute stretch in the third period,” Poland coach Tyler Tracy said. “They built a 10-point lead, and basketball is a game of runs. We didn’t make a run back.”
Junior guard Zach MacKinnon scored 17 of his 23 points in the second half and dished out six assists for Kennebunk (1-1).
MacKinnon nailed two from beyond the arc and kicked out to Nick Bush and Justin Wiggins for two more shortly after intermission. Wiggins hit a second uncontested 3-pointer during the surge that transformed a 26-24 Knights’ halftime lead into a 39-29 deficit.
“We got hot. That always helps. It makes it easy for me when they hit all their shots,” Kennebunk coach Barrett Belanger said. “The big thing we stress: Be confident. All our guys have the green light, so if you have an open shot, you take it. We work on that, and it works well for us.”
It was a half-court, heavyweight slugfest prior to that storm.
Alan Young finished with 25 points and 12 rebounds for reigning Class B West champion Poland (1-1). John Fossett added 12 points and six caroms.
Kennebunk’s 6-6, 260-pound junior Travon Bradford (14 points, 10 rebounds) and 6-6 senior Jake Lapham (five points, 17 boards) matched that efficiency down low.
“That’s our thing. They know if that if we go inside and the other team collapses, that’s when it’s going to open up (our shooters), and they’ve bought into that,” Belanger said. “Our big man Travon had seven or eight straight points, and they have to drop in on him.”
Poland couldn’t whittle the margin beneath six, in part because Lapham, Bradford and 6-5 Jacob Boothby ensured that the Knights were one-and-done, grabbing zero offensive rebounds during the Rams’ rally.
A switch from man-to-man to zone complicated matters, too.
“They did a nice job adjusting with the zone. We didn’t respond well to it in the second half,” Tracy said. “We felt like we could get whatever we wanted inside in the first half. The second half they just packed it in, and we struggled.”
Young erupted for 15 points in the first half but was held to two in the second half until the 3:31 mark of the fourth quarter.
“The first half Derek (Michaud) and the other guys were getting me the ball really easily. All I had to do was turn and shoot pretty much,” Young said. “The second half, me and John, we weren’t running as well as we could have. I think that’s part of the reason that zone shut us down. We just weren’t getting to our spots quick enough.”
MacKinnon scored 10 in the fourth. The first nine were in immediate response to Poland points.
After hoops by Fossett and Zack Lowe made it 48-42 with 6:55 to go, Poland never again scored consecutive baskets.
“It’s a huge win. They were the defending Western Maine champions, so it feels good to get our first win in their house,” Belanger said. “It’s a confidence booster for the guys. That’s a good team, too, so we’re excited.”
Wiggins added eight points, six assists and five steals for the Rams.
Poland’s guards committed only two turnovers in the second half. Michaud and Pat Kuklinski each chalked up five assists. Trevor Saunders served up seven points and four steals off the bench.
“We couldn’t knock down shots, myself included,” Michaud said. “We settled too much, and they just seemed to rebound every time and took us out of the game.”
Neither team led by more than four points in a first half that featured seven lead changes and four ties.
“(Young) was killing us down low,” Belanger said. “We said if they’re going to beat us, they’re going to have to beat us from the outside. Luckily we’re the ones that got hot and it wasn’t them.”