BANGOR, Maine — Just 48 hours removed from a humbling loss to Lawrence of Fairfield, the Bangor boys basketball team focused on the present rather than dwelling on the past Thursday night and was rewarded with a regular season-ending 54-44 victory over Brewer before 950 fans at the Bangor Auditorium.
“When you score 22 points in a game like we did against Lawrence [ a 37-22 defeat] you know you’ve got a lot of work to do, so it was really a reality check for us,” said Bangor senior forward Patrick Stewart, who scored 12 points and grabbed 12 rebounds as the Rams improved their record to 13-5 and likely will face a 4-5 rematch against Lawrence in the Eastern Maine Class A quarterfinals that begin Feb. 18 at the Augusta Civic Center.
“We wanted to get a win going into the tournament, but we’re zero and zero now. We’ve got to get four wins to get a state championship and it starts with the first one. Now that the regular season’s over, we’ll just focus on who we have to play next.”
Xavier Lewis had a big night for Bangor against its cross-river rivals with 16 points and eight rebounds. The sophomore guard made 3 of his 5 3-point attempts, and that outside shooting helped spread the Brewer defense enough for the guards to penetrate into the lane or Stewart to work against single coverage.
“[Making outside shots] makes defense easier and takes a lot of stress off everything because in the last game the reason things went so tough was because our shots weren’t falling,” said Lewis. “We came back from that and had a great practice yesterday, and we also had a team meeting without the coaches and talked about how we could improve.”
Brewer — which needed a victory over Bangor to maintain its own postseason hopes — rallied from deficits of 14 points in the second quarter and 13 early in the final period but struggled to come all the way back against the taller Rams, who outrebounded the Witches 33-22.
“Obviously we played a lot better than we did the other night,” said Bangor coach Roger Reed. “After that game I just told them to forget it, throw it in the trash can and get it out of your mind because it wasn’t a typical basketball night for us, and they came back well tonight.”
Lewis scored 10 points in the first half, including a pair of 3-pointers, as Bangor made four of eight tries from beyond the arc overall while building a 30-20 intermission lead.
Senior forward Zach Campbell added seven points in the second quarter for the Rams, who built their advantage to as much as 28-14 before Brewer rallied behind a three-point play by senior guard Yuhi Sasaki and a 3-point goal from Jeff Weeks.
Sophomore guard Alex Campbell came off the bench to add 11 points for the Rams, including eight during the second half when Bangor used a 3-pointer by Lewis and a drive by Stewart to take a 44-31 lead with 6:50 left in the game.
Brewer mounted one final rally, initially within 44-36 as Ian Burgess made two free throws and Weeks hit a step-back 3-pointer and then to within 46-39 on a follow-up basket by Matt Cuskelly and a Weeks free throw with 3:12 remaining.
But Alex Campbell and John Szewczyk each drove into the lane on Bangor’s next two possessions to set up a pair of baseline jumpers by Alex Clark, and the Rams’ lead was back to 50-39 with less than two minutes remaining.
Sasaki led 7-11 Brewer with 15 points, while Brendan Newcomb added nine points.