Freshmen twin towers Cooper and Ace Flagg of Nokomis Regional High School in Newport have brought great excitement to Maine’s high school boys basketball scene this season.
The Brewer Witches countered Friday night with experience, determination and their own blend of talent, a combination that made the difference in a 57-46 victory over the visiting Warriors in an early clash of Class A North contenders.
Junior forward Brock Flagg – no relation – scored a game-high 22 points and Brewer never trailed after scoring the game’s first six points during a highly anticipated matchup played before as full a house as local COVID-19 protocols would allow.
The win improves the Witches to 3-0 on the season, including homecourt victories over both teams picked ahead of them in the Class A North preseason coaches poll, Nokomis and Skowhegan.
“We’ve had a tough schedule and it’s awesome to get off to this type of start,” said junior forward Ryder Goodwin, who added 17 points for Brewer.
“But we know when we go to Nokomis [on Jan. 20] they’re not going to roll over. They’re going to be ready to play, and they’re extremely talented. Every game we just can’t just walk into the gym thinking we’re going to be good. We’ve got to be ready every single game.”
Brewer has been on the precipice of major success in each of the last two winters, suffering a last-second loss in the 2019 Class A North semifinals to that year’s eventual state champion Hampden Academy, then going 13-2 last winter to win the Penobscot Valley Conference Classes A-B championship after the schedule was abbreviated and regionalized due to the pandemic.
This season marks one more opportunity for the veteran Witches, and a win over a young and still evolving Nokomis team marks an early step in a positive direction.
“The big difference for us tonight was our team play,” Brewer coach Ben Goodwin said. “We had some ideas on how we were going to stop them, and the kids believed in each other. It wasn’t one guy that won this game, it was all of them playing as a team. They have that confidence from playing this kind of basketball for the last couple of years, and they believe they can beat everybody.”
Brock Flagg scored 12 first-half points, but 6-foot-7 Ace Flagg matched that total and grabbed five rebounds as 1-1 Nokomis hung within 25-24 at intermission.
But back-to-back 3-pointers by Brock Flagg and Brady Saunders and three free throws by Ryder Goodwin after being fouled while shooting a 3-pointer offset 10 third-quarter points by 6-foot-8 Cooper Flagg – including three slam dunks – and enabled Brewer to build a 43-35 advantage.
Nokomis got no closer than six points over the game’s final eight minutes, that at 52-46 on its final points of the game, a 3-pointer by freshman Dawson Townsend with 1:27 left.
Brock Flagg, who scored 20 points during Brewer’s 74-48 victory at Messalonskee of Oakland on Tuesday night, made 6 of 10 shots from the field against Nokomis, including 3 of 5 from beyond the 3-point arc. The first-year starter for the Witches also made 7 of 9 free-throw tries.
“I’ve been with these guys since third grade, maybe just not on the court all the time,” he said. “I usually get nervous before games, so I just wanted to attack the rim and try to get the nerves settled.”
Junior forward Cameron Hughes came off the Brewer bench to contribute eight points and physical defense that helped the Witches overcome their height disadvantage, while senior guard Colby Smith contributed seven assists.
Brewer also cashed in at the free-throw line, making its first 12 attempts and finishing the night 15 of 19 compared with just 2 of 4 for Nokomis.
Cooper Flagg finished with 16 points, four blocked shots and four assists for Nokomis and Ace Flagg totaled 14 points and a game-high nine rebounds.
“The hype they are getting is warranted,” Brock Flagg said. “They’re extremely talented, so we just had to get our [points] because we knew they were going to get theirs.”