In a showdown of two of the top teams in Class A North, Brady Saunders paced the Witches all game with triples and drives to the hoops, leading Brewer to a 78-51 victory over the Nokomis Warriors at Brewer High School on Thursday.
The win moves Brewer to 9-0 while Nokomis falls to 6-3.
The Witches jumped out to a quick 10-2 lead to start the game, punctuating the run with a steal and a layup from Brewer’s Cameron Hughes just 3:50 into the game.
The Brewer fans were loud with the student section dressed in all black, and the Witches on the floor kept making shots early.
“I think we’re in a good spot but the kids understand we can continue to get better,” Brewer coach Ben Goodwin said. “There are little things we can clean up and it doesn’t matter how much we’re beating teams by, once you get to the tournament it is one-and-done. I am excited about where we’re at.”
Evan Nadeau hit two 3-pointers and Brady Saunders, a top player in Class A, scored eight points to lead Brewer to a 20-9 advantage in the first quarter.
Nadeau has been a leader on the court and a good distributor for the Witches while also bringing toughness.
“Evan’s done an outstanding job this year being the point guard and running the show for us,” Goodwin said. “There’s not a tougher kid on the court anytime we play. He’s as tough as nails and will take any challenge we give to him.”
Alex Grant hit two triples in the first half for Nokomis, while Connor Sides scored seven first-half points to try and keep the Warriors within striking distance.
Nokomis’ star senior Madden White struggled to find the bottom of the net over the first two quarters and picked up his third foul with two minutes to play in the half.
“Madden is a great player,” Saunders said. “The challenge was really big for me and going into the game I felt like I had to lock down defensively and give him as few touches as possible. That would put our team in a good situation to win.”
White had a revolving door of defenders on the offensive end, including Saunders and Brock Flagg.
“This year’s been a big test for him,” Goodwin said of Saunders. “He’s been guarding everyone’s best player. For him to defend the best player and average 23 a game, he’s just a great player. He’s worked hard for this and it’s pretty special to watch him play.”
Flagg poured in nine first-half points for the Witches and Brewer had a 35-21 lead at the break.
Saunders started the third quarter with two quick layups and a pull-up jumper to separate the Witches even more, 41-21, with 4:45 to play in the third.
White finally got on the board in the third, scoring five points including a triple with 1:32 to play.
Saunders answered 12 seconds later with a 3-pointer in the left corner, then a minute later hit another three as part of his 12-point third quarter performance.
“It was an incredible feeling,” Saunders said of the three. “Obviously when a team comes down and hits a three, that’s a big momentum play for them. For us, to come back and hit a three of our own, it speaks to our mental toughness and we don’t get down on ourselves.”
Saunders began the fourth as he did the third, with a 3-pointer, on his way to a five-point quarter and 27-point game. The senior ended his game with a no-look pass to a cutting Owen Fullerton for a basket at the hoop that made it 74-49 with 1:30 left in the game.
“I thought we rebounded the crap out of the ball,” Saunders said. “We played well defensively and pushed the ball well and that was really key for us.”
White scored eight in the fourth to finish the game with 13 points. Grant also scored 13 for the Warriors.
Brewer’s Ryder Goodwin scored 11 and Flagg poured in 15.