An emotional victory over cross-river rival Bangor earlier in the week and a snow day on Friday may have left the Brewer boys basketball team a bit sluggish as it hosted Mt. Blue of Farmington in a Class A North battle Saturday afternoon.
But the 3-point shot proved to be a potent elixir for the undefeated and top-ranked Witches, who made 12 of 26 attempts from beyond the arc en route to a 79-66 victory.
Junior forward Brock Flagg paced the long-range attack, making 5 of 9 from distance to score a team-high 19 points along with 10 rebounds.
“We knew Mt. Blue was going to play a zone so we practiced working on [3-point] sets,” said Flagg, a first-year starter who has emerged as Brewer’s top scorer during its 8-0 start.
Frontcourt mate Brady Saunders added three 3-pointers as part of his 17-point effort while the Witches’ third junior forward, Ryder Goodwin, contributed 17 points and seven rebounds.
Senior guard Aaron Newcomb added nine points to the balanced attack while senior point guard Colby Smith flirted with a triple-double before finishing with seven points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists.
“[Mt. Blue] ran some different defenses but we’ve got some smart, veteran players on our team who can find open spots,” Smith said of his facilitation efforts. “I’ve just got to make the pass when they’re in the right spot and it works.”
Mt. Blue, which had lost to Brewer 80-61 in their earlier meeting at the Augusta Civic Center on Dec. 28, proved itself a stubborn opponent in the rematch.
Coach Troy Norton’s club, minus two coaches and leading player Chandler Briggs due to COVID-19, fell behind by 20 points midway through the second quarter but battled back to within eight in the third period and continued to answer Brewer surges with rallies of their own led by sophomores Evans Sterling and Zach Poisson, each of whom scored 20 points.
Junior Jayden Meader added 10 points for the Cougars, now 4-5 and ranked sixth in Class A North.
“That’s one of the best teams in the state,” Norton said. “It would have been very easy just to fold when we dropped behind early, but we dug deep and played hard. They just made too many shots.”
Three-pointers by Newcomb, Saunders, Flagg and junior guard Evan Nadeau helped Brewer build a 23-13 lead at the end of the first period. The Witches added five more shots from beyond the arc during the next eight minutes to build their advantage to 46-29 at halftime.
Brewer made 9 of its 14 3-point tries before intermission, including a buzzer-beater from midcourt by senior guard Evan Glass to close out the second quarter.
“That’s the thing about our team, even when we start out slow we can get ourselves going and we can get ourselves going quick,” Smith said. “When we put it all together we’re scary.”
Mt. Blue opened the second half with nine unanswered points as Sterling scored twice on drives to the basket and then fed Poisson for a 3-pointer before Charles Stevens hit a baseline shot to cut the Cougars’ deficit to 46-38 with 5:40 left in the third period.
But Smith then fed Goodwin for a layup and Flagg for a 3-pointer and Saunders added a layup to restore Brewer to a 53-38 advantage, and a buzzer-beating runner off the glass by Smith enabled the Witches to take a 61-46 cushion into the final quarter.
“On any given night, any one of their starters can score 20 and that makes it tough to defend,” Norton said.