Carrabec’s Luke Carey (10) takes a jump shot from the top of the key in front of a few Lisbon defenders during a Mountain Valley Conference game Jan. 4 in North Anson. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

Carrabec boys basketball coach Erik Carey kept the goals relatively modest for his team entering the season. While some teams think championship or bust, Carey went in a different direction.

“Our goal this year was not built around anything other than being able to play in competitive games,” he said. “To play in meaningful games, that was the term we used. … If you look at some of our scores in the past, we just haven’t played in meaningful games.”

With the season at around its halfway point, the Cobras are poised to get their wish. A program that has struggled for years and won only six games over the past two seasons, Carrabec now is 6-2, and entered the week at the top of the Class C South standings.

Plenty remains to be determined, but the Cobras have already made a statement. With another win, Carey said, they’ll pass six wins for the first time since 1997.

“Our expectations were higher. We won two games their freshman year, four games their sophomore year, so we knew the trend was going upward,” said Carey, who’s in his third year as head coach. “We’re still taking it day-to-day. We’re enjoying it, to be honest with you. They were part of those lean years, and so they’re not taking anything for granted.”

Continuity has been a key for the Cobras. Four starters from last year are back, led by junior Luke Carey, who’s the team’s leading scorer, a skilled distributor and a nightly double-double candidate. The others are senior Danny Handley and juniors Joel Gehrke and Bobby Lindblom, and Coach Carey said the group has turned into a solid defensive team.

“Our man-to-man defense has really been the nice surprise for us,” he said. “Offensively, we’ve been able to compete to a certain degree. But our man-to=man defense has really been the driving force behind this increased success.”

Coach Carey said there have been games this season, namely a 54-49 win over Oak Hill during which they trailed in the fourth quarter, that have shown the strides the Cobras have taken.

“That was a game that we talked to the kids about. In the past, we lose that game every time,” he said. “And we were able to hold it together. … That was a big one for us.”

 

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Brunswick High went to full remote learning this week after a surge in COVID-19 cases, the school announced this weekend.

Co-curricular activities, including sports, are paused through at least this week.

Brunswick boys basketball coach Ben Clark said he is trying to make the most out of a “tough situation.”

“It’s unfortunate,” he said. “We wish we were playing, but this is all out of our control. We’re still working out details, but we’ll have daily Google meetings. We have virtual school, so we’ll have virtual basketball.”

Clark added that he plans to have his players complete some workouts during the week.

“We’ll post some workouts and try to hold them accountable,” he said. “Maybe have them take a video of the workout, or going into the garage and doing some ball handling stuff. We’re going to try and stay as positive as we can here.”

The Dragons (2-5) opened the season 2-1 before losing four straight games.

They are scheduled to play Yarmouth on Jan. 17 and then Mt. Ararat on Jan. 21.

“We have an open tournament this year, so everybody will get in,” Clark said. “If we don’t get all 18 games, we’ll still have opportunity to get into the tournament. That levels the playing field a little bit.”

 

• • •

 

Winslow’s Andrew Poulin (30) drives to the basket as he is defended by Presque Isle’s Jackson Maynard (24) on Dec. 30 in Winslow. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

For the Winslow boys, their 6-2 record has been a statement of perseverance.

The Black Raiders have battled COVID absences throughout the season, but weathered the storm to sit in fourth place in Class B North. The virus has forced key players Jason Reynolds, Nick Girard, Tyler Brockway and Braden Rodrigue to miss action at times this season, but coach Ken Lindlof said the team hasn’t let the lineup inconsistency drag it down.

“The kids have been resilient through this,” said Lindlof, who at one point held a practice with only nine players. “They’ve gone out and competed, and generally fared pretty well. We still have a lot of potential ahead of us if we can finally get everybody back on board.”

One of the best showings was a game against previously undefeated Presque Isle on Dec. 30. Playing without Reynolds, one of the region’s best forwards, Winslow got a double-double from Antoine Akoa, then got a buzzer-beating three from Girard to win 52-51.

“That’s kind of a remarkable story,” said Lindlof. “It was a great team victory, to play a lot of guys. Some kids that played in the JV game were all of a sudden inserted in the fourth quarter of a varsity game.

“We’ve been in a next man up mode. It’s helping us build depth, too. It’s not the way you want to do it, but kids have been able to step up for us.”

 

• • •

 

Hall-Dale’s KK Wills, center, gets double teamed by Spruce Mountain’s Olivia Mastine, left, and Avery Bessey during a girls basketball game last week in Farmingdale. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

The Hall-Dale girls needed everyone on the roster for a 60-55 victory over Spruce Mountain on Friday.

For one of those players, it was surprising she was even able to be on the court.

Senior guard K.K. Wills scored five points that night after being hospitalized in the early hours that morning with stomach pains, part of continuing side effects from her second COVID-19 vaccine.

“I was trying to stay very positive,” she said. “I was just hoping the stomach pains would slowly ease away, which they did after they gave me the medication.”

Wills got the vaccine Tuesday and started feeling ill soon after. She started a game Thursday against Wiscasset but didn’t have the energy to finish, and woke up at 1 a.m. the following morning with stomach pain, prompting a trip to Maine General in Augusta. After receiving IV medication, Wills left the hospital at 7 a.m., slept until 3 p.m. that afternoon, and then got herself ready for the game. Wills said all she had to eat that day was popcorn.

“As soon as the tip-off happened, I got the ball and started running, I felt fine,” she said. “Immediately when I started running in the Wiscasset game, I could just feel my legs getting super tense and sore, and I was like ‘Uh oh, this is not good.'”

 

• • •

 

Nokomis freshman Cooper Flagg throws down a dunk against Cony during a boys basketball game Saturday in Augusta. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

It may be more than a month away from the postseason, but don’t tell that to fans of the Nokomis boys basketball team.

Stands were packed — Nokomis has one half of the gym open to fans, while the other half is only teams and officials — not only for the varsity game Thursday night against Skowhegan, but for the junior varsity game as well.

The student section was particularly boisterous for the Warriors, letting their voices be heard on every possession, waving large Nokomis flags in the corner of the stands.

“It’s great,” Nokomis head coach Earl Anderson said. “The best thing is the student section, having the kids come. They didn’t get this last year. And last year, I don’t care what they call it, it wasn’t a basketball season, we didn’t have a basketball season. That’s a high price for kids to pay, and the whole school community. Our whole school community loves basketball. They love coming to the gym, they love supporting their teammates. They’re friends with all these kids. That is just so important, that’s so nice to see.”

Fans that attended the game were in for a treat. Freshman phenom Cooper Flagg scored 34 points, grabbed eight rebounds and had four steals for the Warriors in a 56-40 win over the River Hawks. He also had four dunks.

Flagg wasn’t done after the win over Skowhegan. He proceeded to score 32 points — while brother Ace Flagg added 19 points — in an 80-53 win over Cony on Saturday in Augusta.

The Warriors are now 8-1 on the season.

 

Staff writer Dave Dyer and Central Maine sports editor Bill Stewart contributed to this report.

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