MONMOUTH — Marcques Houston scored just two points in the first half as Monmouth Academy took on Wiscasset in a Mountain Valley Conference boys basketball contest on Thursday.

But, the 6-foot, 4-inch center was working hard. In fact, the Wolverines were whistled for eight first-half fouls while trying to contain Houston, including four on Wiscasset forward Ethan James alone.

The seed was planted, and Houston and his Mustangs teammates used the inside game to their advantage in a 63-49 victory, the sixth consecutive win for Monmouth, which improved to 10-4 and hosts Dirigo on Saturday.

Houston scored 19 second-half points to finish with a game-high 21 and pulled down six rebounds.

“It was slow getting into the game, and coach kept saying I had another gear, and in the fourth quarter it kicked in,” said Houston, who was fouled 15 times in the game. “The last time we played Wiscasset, we were up by 12 in the first half and they came back. Tonight, we did what we had to do to stay ahead. Some guys are a lot stronger than I am, so I have to work hard down there to get room.”

Meanwhile, Wiscasset dropped to 8-7 and is dealing with some personnel issues that have changed the lineup.

“They got the ball inside and we just didn’t have any answer,” said Wiscasset coach Dana Lawrence, whose Wolverines host Lisbon on Tuesday and hope to have forward Dale Peaslee back in the lineup after missing Thursday’s game. “When we started to take the momentum away, we would shoot ourselves in the foot. We answered in the first half and kept it close, but in the second half they made a run and we just didn’t stop them. Monmouth played well, and they are a team to be reckoned with.”

After a back-and-forth first quarter ended with a three-point play by Casey Smith for a 13-10 Mustangs lead, Monmouth finished off an 8-0 run for an 18-10 advantage with 6:58 left until halftime, Wiscasset battled back, answering with an 8-2 spurt to close to 20-18 as Matt Craig and Brandon Sprague each scored four points.

Sprague did well on the inside, pulling down five offensive boards in the first half for a game-high 10 points, but Monmouth remained in the lead when Brandon Goff drove the lane and was fouled for another three-point swing. Hunter Richardson drove the lane for two more points before Craig concluded the half with a short jumper. Monmouth led 25-20 at the break.

“We take what they give us, working inside-out, and they did a good job going into their zone, but I thought we moved the ball well and Goff got to the rim well in the first half,” said Monmouth coach Lucas Turner after watching Goff lead the Mustangs with eight first-half points. “Wiscasset did a heck of a job. They mixed it up with a 1-2-2, a 2-3 and think I even saw a 2-1-2 in there.”

Craig’s lay-up early in the third quarter moved Wiscasset to within two points, 27-25, and Travis Padilla’s first of 12 second-half points again brought the Wolverines to within a bucket.

Houston took over from there. He scored six points in the third quarter as the Mustangs claimed a 40-34 lead, and his 13 fourth-quarter points, all during a game-clinching 16-6 run, put the Wolverines away.

Turner said his team is playing with confidence.

“This team is believing in itself,” said Turner, whose Mustangs last lost at Wiscasset on Jan. 10, 59-47. “Our valleys aren’t as low as they used to be and as long as they used to be. We’re playing level and that is the key.”

Goff finished with 15 points for Monmouth, with Kasey Smith adding 11 points and seven rebounds. Alex Curtis came off the Mustang bench for seven points.

Monmouth shot 52 percent from the floor (24 of 46) and made 14 of 25 at the free-throw line.

Sprague finished with 11 point and seven boards for Wiscasset, while Chandler Longfellow added nine points and four steals. Craig chipped in seven points and five rebounds. The Wolverines were seven of 11 at the charity stripe and shot 35 percent (19 of 53) from the floor.


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