AUGUSTA — The Monmouth Academy boys basketball team had some encouraging moments in Monday’s Western Maine Class C quarterfinal game against Waynflete. There just weren’t enough of them.
Waynflete returned a tournament tested team to the Augusta Civic Center floor and it showed as the Flyers pulled away in the second quarter on their way to a 78-47 victory.
No. 2 Waynflete (16-1) squares off against No. 3 Dirigo on Thursday night at the Civic Center while No. 10 Monmouth finishes at 7-13.
“They are fast, athletic and they can shoot the 3 well,” Monmouth coach Lucas Turner said.
The Mustangs’ 3-2 zone worked for the first nine minutes of the game. Billy Cummings hit a couple of shots driving to the basket to draw Monmouth to within three, 10-7. But everything changed when Waynflete’s Mohammed Suja came into the game. The 5-foot-11 senior immediately hit a 3 from the left side and followed a baseline jumper.
“The zone defense, they figured out how to beat it pretty quick, and (Suja) started hitting shots,” Cummings said.
Suja scored 16 points in the quarter, four on 3-pointers, including one at the buzzer to make it 33-17. He finished with a game-high 27 points, including seven 3s.
“We’ve asked Mohammed to be comfortable coming off the bench and providing us a spark,” Waynflete coach Rich Henry said. “He can do it on offense or defense. Tonight it was 3-point shots.”
The Flyers were a lot more than a one-man show. Senior Serge Nyirikamba finished with 18 points and seven rebounds, while Max Belleau scored 17 points and Jack Cutler 10. Along with Paul Runyambo, all four are returning senior starters.
“We’re at least eight deep, maybe nine deep,” Henry said. “I’ve got some freshmen who can really play the game, but it’s hard to get them any playing time.”
The Mustangs stayed with striking distance early in the second half as junior Marcques Houston (9 points, 10 rebounds) hit the boards hard and Drew McFarren scored six of his eight points in the third quarter. But they never recovered from Waynflete’s 9-0 run midway through the quarter capped by a 3 and a layup by Belleau.
Cummings connected on a pair of 3s in the fourth quarter and finished with a team-high 17 points while sophomore Kasey Smith also played well off the bench.
Cummings is one of five seniors on Monmouth’s roster and has reached a prelim or the tournament in three of his four years on the team.
“Just getting here was a goal,” Cummings said. “Winning a prelim was a goal. We accomplished two of them, some goals we didn’t quite reach.”
Gary Hawkins — 621-5638