BREWER, Maine — Want to win a Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class A boys basketball game this winter?
Often the answer is to figure out a way to generate 45 points.
Lewiston and Brewer squared off Friday night in another tightly contested, low-scoring battle typical of Eastern Maine Class A this season, with Lewiston in search of its 11th victory while Brewer was looking for that one pointworthy win that would secure its own postseason future.
Junior guard Luke Cote proved to be the difference maker, scoring 12 of his 14 points after intermission and contributing five steals to Lewiston’s defensive effort as the Blue Devils rallied from a six-point halftime deficit for a 45-43 victory.
“I think it just tells you how even our league is,” said Lewiston coach Tim Farrar. “Everybody in our league defends, and everybody in our league’s got enough of a ballhandler to control the game. I think it’s going to make for one heck of a tournament.”
Lewiston (11-3) inched its way past idle Bangor into third place in the Heal point ratings, while ninth-seeded Brewer fell to 5-9 after its second heartbreaking loss of the week — the Witches fell in the final seconds at 10-3 Mt. Blue of Farmington on Tuesday night. Nine teams will advance to postseason play in Eastern A.
“It was a tough one for us in the locker room (after the game),” said Brewer coach Ben Goodwin. “But the big thing I told them is that I’m proud. I’m proud of how far they’ve come as a team and as a group, and I’m proud to be in this journey with them. We’ll make that final step, we’ve just got to make it soon.”
Brewer held a 22-16 halftime advantage, but a Lewiston team that went 11 players deep began working the ball more inside during the second half and also used double-teaming fullcourt defensive pressure to force 14 Brewer turnovers after the break.
“We came out pretty weak in the first half, we couldn’t make shots and the second quarter was brutal for us for turning over the ball because we were trying to get the ball inside but they had a good defense and collapsed on us,” said Cote. “In the second half we came out and just wanted to get the ball inside because we knew we had a size advantage on them, and that’s what we did.”
Cote scored six points in the third quarter as Lewiston rallied to forge a 33-33 tie, then scored from the baseline and then went 1-for-2 from the free-throw line during the first 70 seconds of the final period to give the Blue Devils a three-point lead.
Brewer rallied to take a 40-38 lead after sophomore guard Brendan Newcomb hit a 3-pointer — the Witches’ only field goal of the fourth quarter — and then made 1 of 2 from the line with 3:40 left.
Cote answered with a 3-pointer and senior forward Corbin Hyde scored an inside basket to restore Lewiston to a three-point edge, but Newcomb made two from the line and senior forward Matt Cuskelly added another free throw to tie the game at 43-43 with 1:10 left.
Lewiston took the lead for good 13 seconds later when senior guard Shawn Ricker followed in his own miss.
The Blue Devils subsequently missed the front ends of two one-and-one situations, enabling Brewer to get off four shots to tie or take the lead in the final 40 seconds — the final attempt a drive by senior guard Yuhi Sasaki that came up short of the rim as time expired.
“They did a great job with their pressure,” said Goodwin. “They keep bringing it, that’s what they do. We were up at halftime, but they continued to press and I think we only got one field goal in the fourth quarter so they did a great job. They came out and played and we just couldn’t capitalize on the opportunities we had.”
Ricker finished with 10 points for Lewiston, while 6-foot-4 junior center Steven Patrie had seven points and 12 rebounds.
Newcomb scored a game-high 19 points for Brewer, while Cuskelly finished with nine points and junior forward Ian Burgess grabbed a game-high 14 rebounds.