BREWER, Maine — There were certainly a lot of things up for grabs as Brewer and Skowhegan met in a clash of Class A girls basketball titans Tuesday night.
The Witches came in riding a three-game win streak, and were fourth in the first Heal point standings of the winter while the Indians were sixth.
Skowhegan would prevail in this round, pulling away in the second half to earn a hard-fought 51-41 victory over a determined Brewer squad which played much of the game without senior forward Meghan McLain.
McLain left the game with 3:28 left in the first quarter with a knee injury and did not return, and coach Andy Nickerson said her status is uncertain.
“We have no idea yet…we’ll see what the prognosis is tomorrow,” said Nickerson.
Both clubs are now 6-3 on the year. Two of Skowhegan’s losses have been by three points or less.
“They’re a very good basketball team that’s going to win a lot of games,” Nickerson said.
The Witches outworked the Indians on the boards throughout the first half, generating multiple second- and third-chance opportunities, but Skowhegan turned up the heat in the second half and limited Brewer to one-and-done for the most part.
“We simply rebounded the basketball better in the second half. In the first quarter we gave them every opportunity to score the basketball,” said Indians coach Heath Cowan.
Cowan’s club was also shorthanded, playing without junior forward Mackenzie Smith, who turned an ankle in a recent practice and has been sick, but should be back in the Indians’ fold in another week or so.
Kaley Brown led the Indians with 15 points and seven rebounds, while Whitney Jones collected 12 points and six boards and Morgan Lambert nine points and eight boards – including six on the offensive end.
“At halftime [coach] just told us we need to get a [body on] somebody, we took his words and just did it,” said the 6-foot Brown.
The Indians took a 31-26 lead into halftime and outscored the Witches 8-4 over the first 3:34 of the second half to establish a nine-point lead.
That flurry was capped by Brown’s conventional three-point play.
Brewer climbed back to within six in the fourth, but Lambert converted driving layups on back-to-back possessions to push the lead back to eight and the Witches would get no closer than six.
After a tough road loss to Nokomis of Newport recently and a 30-point home thumping of Bangor, the Indians seem to be getting back on track.
“After the Nokomis game we didn’t know really where we were going to be,” said Brown. “We knew this was a tough place to play. We haven’t really played good here before. We knew we just had to come out here and execute and clearly we did that.”
Leah Jackson’s determination kept the Witches in striking distance, as she scored a game-high 19 points despite drawing double- and sometimes triple teams in the paint.
“I have no complaints about how hard my kids played, I’m very proud of them,” said Nickerson. “You’ve got to give credit to Skowhegan, they’re a very good basketball team.”
Holly Nickerson and Sheri Valley netted seven points apiece while Jackson grabbed 11 rebounds for Brewer.