Reaching for the ball is Southern Aroostook's Gunner Siltz while surrounded by Hodgdon defenders during Monday night's season-opening game in Hodgdon. SA won 94-47.  Credit: Joseph Cyr / Houlton Pioneer Times

HODGDON — The high school basketball season is now underway, ending months of speculation and concern that the COVID-19 pandemic would halt the popular winter sport.

In one of two games played in Aroostook County on Monday, Southern Aroostook of Dyer Brook blasted its way to a 94-47 victory over Hodgdon in the first boys contest of the season played at Hodgdon.

In Monday’s other contest, the Fort Fairfield boys beat Easton 45-41.

The games kicked off a busy week of action as Aroostook County squads prepare to face off against one another. Because of the COVID-19 restrictions, players must wear masks and are only playing other County squads this year in a shortened 12-game regular season.

In Monday night’s game at Hodgdon, Jacob Brooks poured in 23 points, including four 3-pointers, to lead the Warriors. Hunter Brooks chipped in 18 points, while Graham Siltz added 11 points, Dylan Burpee had 10 and Buddy Porter added nine for SA coach Brett Russell.

“It’s very exciting to see the guys finally out there,” Russell said. “We have already put in about six weeks of conditioning, skills and drills, but to finally be out there and executing what we practiced is great. The guys were ready to go for sure.”

For Hodgdon, Drew Duttweiler poured in 15 points and Walker Oliver added 14.

The Warriors opened strong, seizing a 21-13 first quarter lead, and never looked back. SA pulled ahead 43-23 at the halftime break. The third quarter was when SA really came to life, as the team outscored Hodgdon 31-8 to take a commanding 74-31 advantage.

Hodgdon had its best offensive output in the final period, tallying 16 points, with nine of those coming from Duttweiler.

Playing with masks was only an issue on a couple of occasions when the coverings slipped down from the faces of players, exposing their nose and sometimes mouth. For the most part, the players were compliant with the new order that requires them to wear masks.

“In practice I have stayed on them about the masks,” Russell said. “I have actually pushed them pretty hard. I played a little bit of one-on-one with my daughter while wearing a mask, so I know what it’s like. It’s not fun. I was out of breath, so I know how difficult it is for the guys.”