AUGUSTA — What’s the best way to take command of a game early?

As the Brewer boys basketball team proved, a hot outside shot is a good place to start.

The fifth-seeded Witches hit seven 3-pointers in the first half alone and nine overall, jumping out to an early lead and never looking back before wrapping up a 63-47 win over No. 4 Messalonskee in the A North quarterfinals Saturday night at the Augusta Civic Center.

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“With this team this year, we really play as a team,” said Brewer coach Ben Goodwin, whose team improved to 13-6. “Some of our normal guys that really have good games usually didn’t have good games tonight, some of our other guys stepped up. That’s something we’ve been working on all season.”

Trevor Pearson led Brewer with 18 points, while Dylan Huff, who knocked down three 3-pointers, scored 17 and Brady Saunders, who also hit three from beyond the arc, added 10.

“We were having good practices all week. I think we were just ready to put it all together,” said Huff. “We felt really good. We felt really confident.”

Messalonskee (11-8) got 18 points from Tucker Charles and 13 from Matt Parent, but saw an early exit from its first playoff appearance since 2017.

“We knew they could shoot,” Mt. Blue coach Jay Dangler said. “And we allowed them to get offensive rebounds, which we talked about all week (how) we couldn’t do that. We just dug ourselves a hole and couldn’t get out of it.”

Brewer jumped out to an 8-3 lead on the strength of two Aaron Newcomb 3-pointers, and extended the lead to 16-10 by the end of the first quarter. The Witches kept up the pressure in the second, with Huff opening the quarter with two quick threes to make it 22-10. He hit another to make it 30-21 with 1:05 to go, and Saunders connected on a 3-pointer — Brewer’s fifth of the quarter — with 34 seconds left to make it 33-21.

“We got up a lot of shots throughout practice this week, and I think that just helped us with confidence,” Huff said. “Once our first shots start falling, they’re going to close, they know we’re going to shoot the three. So then we can just go by them. It helps just by hitting your shots early.”

The Eagles didn’t get within 10 points the rest of the way. A Jacob Perry free throw with 1:44 left in the third made it 44-33, but Brewer scored 10 of the next 12 points to take any remaining drama out of the game.

“There was a moment where we came back, I think we were down 12 or so in the first half and then we got within six or five, they took a timeout and I felt like that was our moment,” Dangler said. “They went on a little run to end the half, which kind of hurt us, and then in the second half you could tell we were kind of losing our legs a little bit.”

Goodwin was happy to see his team pull away in the second half.

“We came in, the kids had some confidence, they’re playing well,” he said. “They continued to play through their runs and have our own runs. It was a great game.”

Dangler said the return to the playoff stage will help his team, which will return key players like Parent and Noah Wood.

“The majority of the team’s coming back, and they’ve kind of seen now what they don’t want,” Dangler said. “You could just tell, (Brewer) had a little bit more composure, I think, than we did to start. … I think it was a great experience for (us).”

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