BETHEL – Like an enterprising little kid or a miserly old man taking inventory of the piggy bank, Telstar Regional High School is counting every fraction of a Heal Point this winter.

With six Mountain Valley Conference squads and three Western Maine Conference clubs established as locks for the Western Class C boys’ basketball tournament, the Rebels rank among the best of the rest jockeying for the final four bids.

Telstar continued its season-long trend Tuesday night of taking care of teams it theoretically should beat, coasting past Carrabec, 59-44, in an MVC contest.

“Hopefully we keep winning enough games to get into a preliminary game. That’s the goal,” said Matt Zinchuk, one of Telstar’s four senior starters.

If Zinchuk plays this well over the second half of the season, even some of the Rebels’ top-tier opponents best beware. Zinchuk finished with a triple-double, chalking up 12 points, 14 rebounds and 11 assists to go with six blocked shots.

Ryan Kimball led the Rebels (4-7) with 16 points and 10 rebounds. Max Meader also added 10 points before Telstar unloaded its bench with six minutes left and a 30-point lead in the bag.

“I thought especially in the third quarter my kids were very active defensively,” said Telstar coach Mark Thurlow, whose team has beaten Mt. Abram, Monmouth, Lisbon and Carrabec after an 0-4 start. “We had a lot deflections and a lot of steals. That’s the best game Zinchuk has played all year.”

Zinchuk says his role model is Steve Nash of the Phoenix Suns. He wears the same sandy, long locks and wields an unselfish game the NBA’s most valuable player might appreciate.

It’s an interesting choice for s sports hero on this team, though, considering that Thurlow concedes most of his athletes are baseball and soccer players who don’t ski and are simply looking for a sport to pass the time during winter.

Telstar missed most of summer basketball because nobody stepped up to coach the team. Junior varsity coach Dave Berry directed a few alumni versus varsity games until Thurlow emerged in the fall to start his second stint as varsity head coach.

“We just haven’t played enough, and we’re still catching up,” Thurlow said.

When the Rebels generated steals and turned up the wick in transition, they were head and shoulders above the Cobras.

From Louis Thornton’s drive with 1:47 remaining in the first half to Meader’s deuce off a drive-and-dish from Zinchuk on the opening possession of the fourth quarter, Telstar enjoyed a 31-4 run.

“Our strength is that we’ve been playing together for a long time,” Zinchuk said. “When we’re out there hustling is when we do best. When we play a slowdown game, we don’t score as many points.”

Carrabec (1-10) hit only 8-of-39 from the floor over the first three quarters before Telstar let off the accelerator. Jake Goodwin put up 15 points, eight rebounds, six steals and five assists for the Cobras, who suited up no seniors on their eight-man roster. R.J. Pinkham added 11 points.

The Rebels face crucial games against Jay, Hall-Dale, Madison and Lisbon down the stretch.

“We need to keep winning, and we can’t afford for one of those other teams like Mt. Abram to knock off somebody big,” Thurlow said.

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