The Nokomis Regional High School boys basketball team is just where its freshmen twin towers, Cooper and Ace Flagg, want it — on top of the Class A North standings.
It hasn’t taken all that long for the Warriors to ascend to first place in the latest Heal Point rankings, barely half the regular season, but their recent 72-43 victory over Brewer not only avenged their only loss but pushed coach Earl Anderson’s club past the Witches into the No. 1 seed.
“It means a lot because when you see all the rankings we [weren’t] as high as we hoped we would be so getting this win is really a boost for our confidence,” said Cooper Flagg after the Brewer victory. “But we know we’ve got to stay humble.”
It’s been a rapid rise for a program that has yet to win its first regional or state championship and was 1-17 just two years ago, the last time the statewide tournament was held before COVID-19 intervened last winter.
But the arrival to the varsity ranks of the Flagg twins and their cohesion with the returning Warriors has enabled the team to live up to its considerable pre-season attention with an 11-1 record and a 10-game winning streak heading into its home game Tuesday night against 9-3 Cony of Augusta.
“Our whole thing is just blocking out the noise,” Ace Flagg said. “We focus on our team, our group. We don’t listen to anyone else.”
Both Newport natives, who turned 15 on Dec. 21, were pivotal to last Thursday’s win in the rematch against previously undefeated Brewer.
Cooper Flagg, a 6-foot-7-inch wing ranked in many quarters among the top basketball players in the Class of 2025 nationally and already the recipient of college scholarship offers from Bryant and Albany as well as early interest from the likes of Michigan and Iowa, finished with 30 points, 11 rebounds, six assists, six blocked shots and four steals.
Ace, a 6-foot-6 forward who also regularly scores in double figures and ranks among the leading rebounders and shot blockers in Class A North, added 10 points, nine rebounds and five steals.
“Ace is a competitor,” Anderson said. “Sometimes he’s the forgotten twin, but not by his brothers or his teammates.”
The team’s current winning streak, which extended into double digits with a 70-26 victory over Erskine Academy of South China on Saturday, has featured a four-game stretch that included matchups against Nokomis’ three chief rivals in Brewer, No. 3 Skowhegan and No. 4 Cony — teams with a combined 28-7 record through Saturday.
Nokomis won those games by an average of 24 points while allowing an average of just 45.3 points in those victories. That compares with the team’s season-long defensive average of 43.3 points allowed per game, best in Class A North.
“We’re definitely a lot more settled in now,” Cooper Flagg said. “Our defense has really started to kick in, I think that’s been our biggest improvement so far.”
That run began when Nokomis defeated Skowhegan for the second time this winter, a competitive 56-40 victory that was a six-point game until the Warriors opened the fourth quarter with nine unanswered points to pull away.
Nokomis then trailed Cony at halftime of their first meeting of the season in Augusta before outscoring the Rams 32-3 during the third quarter en route to an 80-53 victory.
The Warriors clamped down on Gardiner for a 64-29 victory on Jan. 11 before using an eight-day break to prepare for the rematch with Brewer.
That game wasn’t close after Nokomis erased an early 6-2 deficit with 18 unanswered points on its way to a 40-point reversal of the team’s earlier 57-46 loss at Brewer on Dec. 17.
“We were in the gym every day looking back at the game, knowing what we needed to improve on and working on it every day,” Ace Flagg said. “It just feels good to show everyone what Nokomis can do.”
The 57 points allowed at Brewer on Dec. 17 are the most points Nokomis has allowed in a regular-season game so far this season, with the sizable presence of the Flaggs complemented defensively by junior forward Madden White, sophomore guards Alex Grant and Conner Sides and a bench that includes the Flaggs’ older brother Hunter, a senior who also contributed 10 points to the win over Brewer.
“Cooper’s tough because when he sits down and is disciplined defensively he is awfully, awfully good,” Anderson said. “It’s the same with Ace. When they sit down and are disciplined on defense they are awfully, awfully good. We’ve become a good defensive team.”