TURNER — Before Friday’s game, Maranacook’s discussion revolved around missing shots.
It wasn’t that the team was pessimistic — The Black Bears were just being prepared.
“We haven’t been shooting that well in previous games,” senior center Christine Miller said. “We had some rough shooting games. So before the game we were actually talking about needing to keep shooting and that our shots would start to fall. We know when it’s a good shot and when it’s a bad shot. So if it’s a good shot, we just have to keep shooting.”
The Black Bears missed their shots early but weren’t discouraged. They kept shooting and eventually they dropped according to plan.
Leavitt couldn’t keep up. Maranacook opened the lead in the second quarter and never looked back in a 47-29 win over the Hornets.
“We’re so young that if we lose our confidence a little bit, we struggle to get it back,” Leavitt coach Dave Gerrish, whose team went over nine-and-a-half minutes without scoring, said. “Then we can’t get any kind of rhythm at all.”
Leavitt was within one early in the second, but Maranacook finished the half with a 15-2 run and 13 straight points. That led to a 23-9 lead at the half. The Hornets didn’t score again until the third quarter.
“We enjoy playing an uptempo game,” Maranacook coach Jeannine Paradis said. “Sometimes we have to make sure that the game comes to us. I think in that second quarter, we started to generate some good shots, and the game came to us. We were able to play at a speed we like to play.”
Miller finished with 22 points, seven rebounds and six assists. Catherine Sanborn added 11 while Elizabeth D’Angelo added eight. The Black Bears moved to 5-0 and sit atop the Western C standings.
“We definitely wanted to start the season off great,” Miller said. “In the past, we haven’t started off so well and would always finish strong. So we were really wanting to come out strong and finish strong as well.”
Leavitt (2-3) got 14 points and 10 rebounds from Chantel Eells. Liz Goulette added six points while Sophie Gilbert had four points and 14 rebounds.
“I thought Chantel kept us in there,” Gerrish said of his junior forward. “She kept us mentally in the basketball game.”
The Black Bears built an 8-3 lead in the first quarter but neither team hit many shots early. Maranacook was 2-for-14 while Leavitt was 1-for-14, missing its first 10 shots. Miller had six points in the quarter, four from the line, to get the Black Bears the lead.
“We, hopefully, generate our offense from our defensive effort,” said Paradis, whose team was missing starting guard Sarah Clough to an illness. “I think we started out a little flat defensively. Then we started to get in the flow of it.”
The two teams traded baskets to open the second quarter. Eels, Goulette and Gilbert all hit shots for Leavitt, which opened the quarter 3-for-3. The Hornets missed their next seven shots. Maranacook hit six of its first eight and broke the lead open.
After a D’Angelo steal, Gilbert scored on a press breaker, but the Black Bears then ran off 13 straight. Sanborn, Miller and D’Angelo hit jumpers. Sanborn finished off a Miller pass. Then Sage Hyland and Sanborn added free throws for the 23-9 lead.
“I think our experience allows us to calm down a lot whenever we’re in a little bit of a rough spot,” Miller said.
Leavitt struggled against the Black Bear defensive pressure. The Hornets didn’t score again until Eells hit a free throw with 4:49 left in the third. The next field goal was a Gilbert rebound with 4:00 left. Leavitt had over two dozen turnovers in the first three quarters.
“Their pressure really dominated us,” Gerrish said. “I hate to use that word, but it did. Their pressure dominated us – too many turnovers. We didn’t take care of the basketball. That’s what happens when you play a good team, and they put a lot of pressure on you. I thought they did a good job.”
Miller scored 11 in the third as the Black Bears outscored Leavitt 16-5. Eells led the charge in the fourth with nine points as Leavitt outscored the Black Bears 15-8.
“I’m always happen when they don’t give up,” Gerrish said. “I’m just hoping we can take care of the ball a little bit better.”