LEWISTON — The first three quarters of Tuesday night’s KVAC tilt seemed to confirm what the standings showed — Messalonskee and Lewiston were headed in two different directions at the season’s halfway point.
In the fourth quarter, though, both teams did an about face, one that Lewiston hopes will ultimately be the start of a march to the tournament.
Lewiston went on an 18-0 run in the fourth quarter and rallied for a 64-58 win which snapped its four-game losing streak and halted Messalonskee’s three-game winning streak.
The Blue Devils (4-5) rallied around the inside-outside combination of Steven Patrie and Josh Thomas and harassing defense in the second half, led by Isaiah Harris and Donne Agossou. Thomas came off the bench shooting and finished with a game-high 20 points. Patrie commanded the paint from the second quarter on en route to 16 points and 12 rebounds.
“We had a great practice (Monday) night and we knew that we had to come out firing in order to win,” said Patrie, who collected half of his rebounds off the offensive glass. “We’ve been in kind of a slump, so we knew what we had to do and we got it done.”
Thomas broke out of a slump of his own to drill six 3-pointers, the first a three-quarter court heave to beat the first period buzzer. He then hit a trio of trifectas in a span of 1:48 in the fourth quarter as the Devils rallied from a six-point deficit to a lead they would never relinquished.
“I’ve been struggling and finally, shots fell,” Thomas said. “I got in the flow and the game came easy for me.”
Little came easy for the Blue Devils through the first three quarters. But their ills were minor compared to the cold the Eagles (4-5) caught in the fourth.
After shooting 58 percent from the floor in the first half and 5-for-12 in the third, Messalonskee missed its first 12 shots of the fourth period and never made a single field goal inside the 3-point arc.
By contrast, the Eagles dominated the paint in the first quarter. Aaron Gagne scored eight of his 11 points in the period to help them open up an 11-point lead.
“You wouldn’t say he’s lightning quick, but he’s smooth and he can shoot the 3 and he can post up,” Lewiston coach Tim Farrar said. “We always have that cross match-up problem because we want to play a little small. We switched that at halftime. We put Isaiah Harris, who’s a little longer, on him (and Gagne didn’t score).”
Thomas’ Hail Mary made it a five-point game after one, but the Eagles were able to widen that margin back to 11 in the second quarter because Jordan Carson (nine points) picked up where Gagne left off.
Lewiston tried to chip away in the third, pulling within three on a Thomas 3-pointer with a little over three minutes left. But Travis Stacey answered with a 3 of his own.
Thomas’ putback, his only two-point basket of the night, made it a six-point game headed into the fourth. More importantly, Lewiston had started to take control of the paint and the boards.
“We knew we had to be more physical,” Patrie said. “We know we’re a physical team. We just had to wake up and play our game.”
“The bench did a lot with their energy,” Thomas said. “We worked as a team and came out with the ‘W.'”
The Eagles managed only a pair of free throws by Jordon Holmes (14 points) in the first 6-plus minutes of the fourth. Thomas quickly erased the deficit and gave Lewiston its first lead of the game with 5:04 left.
Agossou then found Harris in the lane for a three-point play, and Patrie used the basket to protect himself from Elijah Steele (five blocked shots) for a reverse layup that made it 56-50.
Harris blocked a Holmes jumper and took it to the other end for a layup. Steele was able to block a Patrie shot, but Patrie stuck with it and converted to put the lead in double digits, 61-50. A hoop by Agossou made it 63-50 before Holmes finally ended the Eagles’ drought with a 3-pointer with 1:44 left.
“It’s a long season and all of the games are important, but you feel like this one was bigger because of who we were playing and how we’ve been playing,” Farrar said. “Any time you get a win in this league it’s precious. We’ve been on the wrong end of some tough ones lately, but I’m real proud of my kids tonight. I wish I could tell you what I did, but it wasn’t me. It was them.”