Mt. Blue High School’s Jacelyn Dagger (32) tries to split Messalonskee High School defenders Emily Parent (12) and Allyssa Turner (33) in Oakland on Friday. (Michael G. Seamans/Waterville Morning Sentinel)

OAKLAND — Since dropping its first two games of the season, the Messalonskee High School girls basketball team has found its stride. That run of strong play continued for the defending Class A state champs Friday night with a 62-31 win over Mt. Blue.

The Eagles never trailed, and opened up a double-digit lead midway through the first quarter. Messalonskee led by 20 at the half, and cruised to the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference win.

Messalonskee improved to 5-2, while Mt. Blue dropped to 2-6.

“We got a drubbing on opening night (a 67-29 loss to Hampden). We’ve got a tough schedule. We knew what Mt. Blue had done against some teams. They played tough against Nokomis, tough at Lewiston. With someone like Lexi (Mittelstadt) on the floor, you know they’re always in the game. The girls were really bringing it for four quarters,” Messalonskee coach Keith Derosby said.

Messalonskee’s dominance on the boards and strong transition game were the key factors in the Eagles win. Messalonskee grabbed 49 rebounds to the Cougars’ 32, and by getting out and running, the Eagles were able to beat Mt. Blue’s tough man-to-man defense.

“We’ve had pretty good luck playing man to man all year,” Mt. Blue coach Fred Conlogue said. “They just beat us down the court the whole night, especially in the first half.”

Gabrielle Wener scored 10 of her game-high 24 points in the first quarter, helping the Eagles take an 18-5 lead. Messalonskee’s lead was 35-15 at the half, and Wener scored five points in the first minute of the third quarter to give the Eagles a 40-15 cushion. The Cougars cut Messalonskee’s lead to 42-22 on a Joclyn Daggett 3-pointer midway through the third, but that was as close as Mt. Blue could get.

“We got a lot of good ball movement tonight, both around the perimeter and inside and out. It didn’t seem like the ball stalled a whole lot offensively. When it didn’t drop, we were able to get our hands on some rebounds and at least keep the ball alive,” Derosby said.

Defensively, the Eagles did a nice job containing Mittelstadt, holding the high-scoring sophomore to nine points, five coming at the foul line. Daggett also had nine points for the Cougars, who had an off night shooting.

“We’ve been shooting about 30 percent. We were probably around 12 percent tonight. We just weren’t able to hit shots early. They did a good job containing Lexi,” Conlogue said.

Emily Parent and Makayla Wilson each scored eight points for Messalonskee. Brooke Martin had seven rebounds for the Eagles.

Mt. Blue High School’s Lexi Mittelstadt (24) drives to the hoop as she is defended by Messalonskee High School’s Brianne Benecke (11) in Oakland on Friday. (Michael G. Seamans/Waterville Morning Sentinel)Mt. Blue High School’s Lexi Mittelstadt (24) puts up a shot over Messalonskee High School defenders Gabrielle Wener, left, and Brianne Benecke in Oakland on Friday. (Michael G. Seamans/Waterville Morning Sentinel)

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