The future appears to be now for the Nokomis boys basketball team.

Towering freshman twins Cooper and Ace Flagg led the host Warriors of Newport on an early 18-0 blitz to take control and barely looked back after that to storm past previously undefeated and top-ranked Brewer 72-43 in a battle of the top two teams in Class A North on Thursday evening.

The win was the ninth straight for coach Earl Anderson’s club since a 57-46 loss at Brewer on Dec. 17. The victory was never in doubt after Nokomis erased an early 6-2 deficit and gained a 20-6 lead when the 6-foot-7-inch Cooper Flagg parlayed a steal by the 6-6 Ace Flagg into a driving layup in the opening moment of the second quarter.

“We knew what we had to do,” Cooper said. “It was a revenge game for us, a comeback game, so we came out, we executed on defense and it all went uphill from there for us.”

Nokomis improved its record to 10-1. Brewer fell to 9-1.

Defense and rebounding were at the heart of Nokomis’ decisive early surge as well as the rest of the victory, as the Warriors scored eight points after grabbing offensive rebounds as they held  Brewer scoreless for a 5-minute, 40-second stretch.

The Warriors were able to shut down the driving lanes typically used by a Brewer team that had been averaging more than 73 points per game as well as limit a lineup that included three of Class A North’s seven most prolific 3-point shot makers to a 4-of-16 night from beyond the arc.

“I think staying close to their [3-point shooters] and just letting our bigs inside play straight up and just play good defense was the main focus,” said Cooper Flagg of a Nokomis squad now yielding fewer than 43 points per game this season.

Cooper Flagg’s performance wasn’t limited to defense, as the highly touted 14-year-old scored a game-high 30 points on 14-of-19 shooting from the field to go with 11 rebounds, six assists, six blocked shots, four steals — and three slam dunks.

Ace Flagg shook off some early foul trouble to contribute 10 points, nine rebounds and five steals, with eight points and six rebounds during the first quarter to help spark the Warriors to their early lead.

“One of our focal points from the last game was to keep them to one shot and one shot only,” Ace said. “Then we could go down and get multiple shots at our end.”

The third Flagg brother on the roster, senior forward Hunter Flagg, came off the bench to shoot 4 of 5 from the field and score seven of his 10 points during the second quarter as the Warriors maintained a 34-17 halftime cushion.

A 3-pointer by Brewer junior forward Brock Flagg — no relation — closed the gap to 36-20 early in the third quarter, but that was as close as the Witches got after intermission.

A seven-point Nokomis run that began with a Conner Sides layup off a feed from Alex Grant,  and was followed by Ace Flagg setting up Connor Flagg for a jam and then scoring himself on a layup after a steal restored the Warriors to a 50-27 lead with 2:36 left in the third quarter after Cooper Flagg made 1 of 2 from the line.

Nokomis began the final period with a 53-34 advantage and immediately outscored Brewer 10-2 during the next 2 ½ minutes. Grant buried a 3-pointer from the left corner and fed Sides for a baseline jumper before Cooper Flagg converted a three-point play and then took a steal in for another slam to extend the lead to 63-36 with six minutes left.

“Most of it was just turning up the defensive intensity, pushing the ball and keeping a high tempo throughout the whole game,” Cooper Flagg said. “That’s what we knew we needed to do.”

Senior guard Colby Smith paced Brewer with 13 points and seven rebounds, while Brock Flagg added 12 points for the Witches.

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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...