The Brewer High School boys basketball team did everything it could do to achieve the goal it set for itself last winter — when its tournament run ended in a last-second loss to Hampden Academy in the Class A North semifinals.
And while COVID-19 prevented the Witches and every other team from pursuing the gold ball symbolic of a state championship, coach Ben Goodwin’s club capped off the 2020-21 season in style Friday night.
Class A Brewer won a second championships in three nights, pulling away in the fourth quarter to defeat Class B Ellsworth 69-52 for the outright Big East Conference pod championship.
It came after Tuesday night’s 68-62 victory at Bangor for the Big East Classes AA-A pod title.
“With everything going on these guys stayed focused and worked hard,” Goodwin said. “It was a long season, but for them to be able to come out and finish it off with a win like this is outstanding.”
Brewer concluded a season that was delayed by more than a month at its outset and offered no guarantees of continuing from day to day due to the coronavirus with a 14-2 record.
“We worked hard all week and all season to come out and do what we did today,” said Brewer sophomore forward Ryder Goodwin, who came off the bench to score 15 points and grab seven rebounds.
Ellsworth, the Big East “B” champion after defeating Orono 58-50 on Tuesday, had its eight-game winning streak halted. Coach Peter Austin’s senior-less club finished the winter at 12-4.
Ellsworth’s most recent previous loss came exactly a month earlier on the same court when Brewer outscored the Eagles 21-6 during the fourth quarter to earn a 62-43 victory.
The storyline was similar in the rematch. Ellsworth hung within 46-43 entering the game’s final eight minutes behind junior guard Hunter Curtis and freshman guard Chance Mercier.
This time, Brewer outscored the Eagles 23-9 in the fourth quarter, with senior guard Kyle Goodrich scoring seven straight points during a decisive 11-2 run that gave the Witches a 59-47 cushion with 4:38 remaining.
Goodrich had gone scoreless over the first three periods and had just returned to the game with four fouls. He made a follow-up shot, a jumper from the free-throw line and then a 3-pointer from the left wing as Brewer quickly stretched its lead to 55-47.
Classmate Dylan Huff then scored after making a steal, and sophomore forward Brady Saunders then convrted a long outlet pass from junior guard Colby Smith to give the Witches a 12-point cushion.
Ellsworth got no closer than nine points the rest of the way.
“We went through a bad spell for a little while so we knew we had to step it up in the fourth quarter,” Goodrich said. “Anyone on the team can go on a run at any point, and tonight it just happened to be me.”
Huff finished with a team-high 16 points, 11 in the second half, while Saunders and junior guard Aaron Newcomb scored 11 points each.
Goodrich added seven points while Smith finished with four points, nine assists and seven rebounds.
Curtis led Ellsworth with a game-high 19 points and 10 rebounds while Mercier scored 15.
Brewer held a 29-23 halftime lead thanks in great part to Ryder Goodwin, who outmuscled Ellsworth’s inside defenders to amass 10 points and four rebounds before intermission.
He scored two straight inside baskets on assists from Smith to spark a 6-0 run that erased a 16-15 Ellsworth lead midway through the second quarter. Goodwin then scored another inside hoop between 3-pointers by Huff and Saunders as Brewer scored eight unanswered points to close out the half.