The Brewer High School boys basketball team has largely had its way with opponents this winter, but coach Ben Goodwin was searching for more consistency from the Witches.
They obliged Friday night, building a big first-half lead through defense and offensive rebounding and going on to defeat visiting Washington Academy of East Machias 57-41.
The win was the fifth straight for Brewer, now 9-1 with two games left on its schedule. That includes a regular-season finale showdown against undefeated Bangor on Feb. 26 with first place for the upcoming regional Class AA-A pod playoffs at stake.
“We played consistent for four quarters and I don’t think we had done that yet,” Goodwin said. “I think the kids are really understanding that if we play some hard defense and crash the boards, that will turn into offense for us.
“Of course, kids like the offensive side, but when they play hard-nosed defense like this it gives us a shot to win a lot of games.”
Washington Academy began the night undefeated in its first five games, having averaged 73 points per outing while outscoring its opponents by nearly 37 points per contest. The Class A Brewer squad was able to slow the Class B Raiders’ desired pace.
“They’re a good team,” Goodwin said. “They’ve got some athletes and some kids who can score. They’re very fast, and they’ll be a tough team [in the Class B pod playoffs].”
Brewer got a big game from the coach’s son, sophomore forward Ryder Goodwin.
The Witches’ sixth man finished with game-high totals of 17 points and nine rebounds. He scored six points during a decisive 13-0 run late in the first quarter and through the first four minutes of the second period that gave Brewer a 23-8 cushion.
He added nine second-half points as Brewer had to play without starting forward Brady Saunders, who was sidelined after suffering an ankle injury midway through the contest.
Brewer’s balance also was on display, as Dylan Huff scored nine points while Saunders, Kyle Goodrich and Aaron Newcomb added eight points apiece and Colby Smith chipped in four points, six assists and four steals.
Brewer’s defense limited Washington Academy to 20 percent shooting while building a 31-15 halftime advantage.
The Raiders regrouped after the break, and while they got no closer than 11 at 37-26 after a 3-pointer by Cecil Gray and a spin move by Jax Lin midway through the third quarter, WA coach Dean Preston was content with his team’s competitiveness.
“I think we’ve got another gear in toughness,” said Preston, who serves as head coach for WA’s boys and girls varsity basketball teams. “We hadn’t been pushed like that and we answered the bell. The score may not say it but I’m really proud of the kids. They stepped up in the physical department, and I think we can compete.
“The mistakes and the gap in points are definitely correctable. We just need to execute a little better, but it was a great experience for the kids.”
Lin and fellow senior guard Daniel Huang paced the Raiders with 12 points each. Gray, a senior center, added a memorable 11, including two 3-pointers and a pair of emphatic slam dunks, one to complete a fast break and the second after a backdoor cut along the baseline.