SOUTH CHINA — The Nokomis boys basketball team is rounding into tournament form after a rough start to the first half of the season.

The Warriors ran their winning streak to six games Saturday with a 49-40 win against Erskine and took over the second spot in the Class A North tournament standings. The victory completed a big week for Nokomis (10-5), which also defeated Bangor and Gardiner.

“We’re playing pretty well at the right time of year,” Nokomis coach Ryan Martin said. “We’ve kind of turned things around as we’ve gotten to the second half of our schedule. We kind of embraced the process of those tough losses we had early. You saw it today. We were tough with the ball and strong and made some plays down the stretch.”

Zach Hartsgrove led the Warriors with 16 points, including 11 of his team’s final 16 points. Point guard Josh Smestad added 11 points while Josh Perry scored 10.

This was a good game for three quarters. Unfortunately for the Eagles, they were outscored 17-4 in the second period and never fully recovered.

“The season’s been long,” Erskine coach Tim Bonsant said. “I wish we could play four quarters. The second quarter hurt us, but they’re seasoned. They’re very good players.”

Erskine (4-10) remains in the tournament picture in seventh place but doesn’t have any point-worthy games remaining on its schedule.

Austin Dunn led the Eagles with 14 points and was instrumental in the team’s comeback from as many as 15 points down. He converted two steals into layups and his 3-pointer from the left side cut the lead to six (43-37) midway through the fourth quarter. But Hartsgrove connected on three free throws and Smestad hit a layup to hold them off.

“Our defensive energy has amped up,” Smestad said. “When we can play good defense, it leads to easy offense whether that’s a layup or kick-out three or just your basketball flow.”

Erskine shot 17 of 51 from the floor due to both the Warriors’ defense and some poor shooting. The Eagles got a nice inside effort from junior Jacob Praul, who scored all 10 of his points in the paint, but they settled too often for long-range shots and only got to the free throw line twice.

“I’m happy overall,” Bonsant said. “You’ve got to like the effort but it’s skill-based at this point. You’ve got to make some shots.”

The Eagles started out hot, jumping to 12-7 lead as Jack Jowett and Braden Soule (10 points) each hit 3-pointers and their matchup-zone forced six Nokomis turnovers. But they weren’t able to sustain that energy and went stone cold in the second period. The Warriors took full advantage as Perry and Brandon Noyes sandwiched threes around layups from Smestad and Brock Graves to push the lead to 10.

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.