MILLINOCKET, MAINE -- 12/20/2016 - Piscataquis' Bryce Gilbert (center) tries for two past Stearns' Josh Rosebush (left) and Andrew Daigle during their basketball game in Millinocket Tuesday. Ashley L. Conti | BDN Credit: Ashley L. Conti | BDN

GUILFORD, Maine — Among the qualities that make a prolific scorer in basketball is the ability to capitalize on impromptu opportunities, and that’s just one reason Piscataquis senior Bryce Gilbert is closing in on 1,000 career points.

Gilbert displayed that knack when his team needed it most Thursday evening, turning what looked to be two threatened possessions into baskets that helped the Pirates shade Greenville 55-50 in a battle of Piscataquis County rivals.

PCHS (2-0) led throughout the contest until Connor DiAngelo scored from the lane to give Greenville a 40-38 lead with 4:48 left in the game.

DiAngelo followed two free throws by Piscataquis center Damyan True with a 3-pointer from the right corner to give the Lakers a 43-40 edge before Gilbert created offense out of adversity.

First he capitalized on an errant pass that went right through the hands of a Greenville defender to the Pirates’ Cameron Kane, who fed Gilbert for a layup to make it a one-point game.

Then he grabbed a loose ball just beyond the top of the key and drilled a straightaway 3-pointer to give PCHS a 45-43 edge and seemingly restored the team’s momentum.

“It definitely helps getting any of the garbage buckets I can off turnovers or loose balls, especially when it’s a close game like it was,” said Gilbert.

Greenville, which returns its entire starting lineup from its 2017 Class D South championship club, managed to tie the game twice more, the final time as senior guard Nick Foley hit a 3-pointer to leave the teams in a 48-48 stalemate with 2:30 to play.

But Kane followed with his fourth 3-pointer of the game to give PCHS the lead for good and Gilbert added a scoop shot and two late free throws to cap off a 12-point fourth quarter.

“We talked about Bryce and Cameron,” said Greenville coach Bill Foley. “You can’t let Bryce get 12 points in the fourth quarter when it’s tight like that. He put some shots down and we didn’t.”

Gilbert, who averaged 25 points per game last winter in leading PCHS to the Class C North quarterfinals, finished with a game-high 26 points to go with 10 rebounds, six assists and four steals.

Kane added 12 points, all on 3-pointers, while True had six points and eight rebounds.

Nick Foley led Greenville with 18 points while Devin Boone scored 13 points and grabbed a game-high 14 rebounds and DiAngelo finished with nine points — all during the fourth quarter — and seven rebounds.

“It’s all about team defense,” said first-year Piscataquis head coach Alden Gregory, whose team limited Greenville to a 30 percent (20 of 67) shooting night from the field. “I reamed the guys out a little bit in the third quarter because we let down a little bit, but our defense pulled us through.”

Kane shot the Pirates to an early lead, hitting 3-of-4 attempts from beyond the arc during the first quarter to help his team take a 14-7 lead against a Greenville team playing its season opener.

PCHS built its lead to as much as 23-12 on a reverse layup by True and an Adam Bagley free throw midway through the second quarter and maintained a 23-15 advantage at intermission.

Greenville came out with renewed spirit to open the second half, with Boone working hard on the backboards as the Lakers pulled within 30-29 on Evan Bjork’s layup with 4:10 left in the third period.

PCHS led 36-32 entering the final period, and after True scored off a Gilbert assist to make it a six-point game DiAngelo accounted for six of eight unanswered Greenville points that gave the Lakers their first lead.

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Ernie Clark

Ernie Clark is a veteran sportswriter who has worked with the Bangor Daily News for more than a decade. A four-time Maine Sportswriter of the Year as selected by the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters...