Bangor’s Andrew Szwez takes the ball by Madden White of Nokomis during a Jan. 13, 2021, game. Credit: Linda Coan O'Kresik / BDN

Landon Clark’s debut in the Bangor-Brewer boys basketball rivalry was a challenge well met Monday night.

The 6-foot-6-inch freshman forward scored a game-high 21 points to go with seven rebounds and three blocked shots as Bangor held off Brewer 52-46 in a midseason battle of neighboring unbeatens at Red Barry Gymnasium.

And it wasn’t just the raw numbers, but the impeccable timing of Clark’s offensive contributions, that led coach Brad Libby’s club to its third win of a season recently interrupted by more than a week due to COVID-19 concerns at the school.

Three times when Brewer cut deficits of between seven and 12 points to four points or less, Clark provided a single basket or personal run that restored Bangor’s control of the game.

The Rams had used their height advantage to dominate the early rebounding action while scoring 14 unanswered points to build a 19-7 lead after a left-handed drive by senior forward Andrew Szwez at the outset of the second quarter.

Brewer (4-1) regrouped behind senior forward Dylan Huff with a 12-2 run to draw within 21-19 with 1:38 left in the first half before Clark interceded. He scored a follow-up basket and then made a 3-pointer from the right of the key to give Bangor a 26-19 halftime cushion.

A jumper from the lane by older brother Max Clark (five points, six rebounds) and a Szwez free throw extended the Rams’ lead back to double digits at 29-19 three minutes into the third period.

But a Brewer team that missed its first six shots of the second half responded with two points apiece from junior guards Aaron Newcomb and Colby Smith and sophomore forward Ryder Goodwin to close the gap to 29-25 with 2:17 left in the quarter.

This time Clark answered with seven straight points — a jumper from the lane, another 3-pointer and a drive to the basket to open the fourth quarter — as Bangor’s lead grew back to 36-29.

Brewer narrowed its deficit one more time, with Goodwin scoring seven points during a 2 1/2-minute span as the Witches pulled as close as they’d been since the midpoint of the opening quarter at 39-38 with 3:32 remaining.

The game went scoreless for more than 90 seconds, with Brewer having a possession to take the lead, before Clark buried a 10-foot jumper.

The Rams then cemented the victory by making 10 of 11 free throws over the final 1:17, four by Szwez, three by Clark and two each by Joey Morrison and Cabryn Streams.

Szwez finished with 14 points, eight rebounds and two blocks for Bangor.

Huff contributed 13 points and seven rebounds for Brewer and Goodwin scored 13 second-half points and grabbed five boards. Smith finished the night with 12 points, seven rebounds and four assists.

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...