Brewer pumps up the orange

Posted Feb. 11, 2009, at 5:39 p.m.

BREWER, Maine — The Brewer boys basketball team has had one of its best seasons in recent history with its 14-4 record good for second place in Eastern Maine Class A, heading into the tournament that begins this weekend at the Augusta Civic Center.

And as the team has blossomed, so has its fan base, particularly among the student body.

What began this winter as a modest group of fellow students decked out in various representations of the Witches’ orange and black colors has grown into a full section of schoolmates so large that in recent games they displaced the school band in one corner of the Brewer High gymnasium.

“They’d overgrown that area,” said Brewer athletic administrator Dennis Kiah, “so we’ve moved the band up on the stage so they’d have more room.

“We wanted to put the student fans down in one section, and to them that’s now their section.”

And everybody’s happy — no surprise given that coach Clayton Blood’s team has emerged as a serious contender for the program’s first regional title since 1988.

“We have a lot of fun,” said Brewer senior Cameron Jamison, a football player at the school and one of a large number of student-athletes who participate in other sports at the school who fill the orange and white student section during basketball games. “It’s pretty hard to keep everybody under control all the time — we get pretty rowdy and we do a lot of chants.”

This spirited group organized informally after an announcement over the school’s intercom urged students to wear orange and cheer for the team at its games.

“We started out kind of small, probably 15 or 20, but now we’re getting pretty big,” said Jamison. “We’re even getting some kids who had never come to a basketball game before.”

The chants are mostly impromptu with an occasional “practice” taking place during the junior varsity game that precedes the varsity contest.

Surely the added cheering has helped enhance the atmosphere at the gymnasium, particularly for the home team — the Witches went 7-2 at home during the regular season — and the team is expecting similar support when it opens tournament play Saturday.

“They’ve been very positive and very cooperative and brought a lot of spirit to the games, and I know the basketball team really enjoys them being here,” said Kiah.

“It’s just athletes wanting to cheer on their teammates and their classmates. A lot of the basketball players go to the hockey games, the hockey players go to the basketball games, and it’s just kept growing. It’s real good positive reinforcement.”

The Brewer High School student body has really turned out to support the boys basketball team this year, as it shows during the Feb. 5 game against Bangor. The Witches will take their 14-4 record into the Eastern Class A tournament this weekend in Augusta. (Michael C. York/The Weekly)

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