AUGUSTA — The Skowhegan boys basketball team was in front all game Wednesday night, but now there was trouble brewing. Cony took its first lead of the game early in the fourth, and with 6:25 to play, the Rams jumped ahead again when Brady Hopkins drilled a 3-pointer from the corner.

But Levi Obert, the River Hawks’ top scorer all game, was ready to shine again. His basket on Skowhegan’s next trip down the floor tied the game at 56. After a Quintcey McCray basket put Skowhegan back ahead, Obert hit another shot to bump the lead to 4. On the next possession, with Cony needing a stop, Obert let it fly from the top of the arc and hit nothing but net.

Skowhegan was now up by seven with 4:35 to go, and wouldn’t be threatened again. Those were big shots in big moments, but that’s what Skowhegan has come to expect over the years from Obert.

“He’s a leader,” Skowhegan coach Tom Nadeau said. “He’s always had a knack for the big play. He really has. And the big shot. That’s nothing new from him.”

Skowhegan’s forwards get most of the attention, and for good reason. With Adam Savage at 6-6 and Kyle and Collin LePage each at 6-5, the River Hawks have an advantage in the post most teams have trouble matching.

But a big part of their heartbeat is Obert on the perimeter, one of four seniors on the team and the only one in the starting lineup Wednesday, and someone the team can always count on for both poise and performance when games get tight.

“He’s such a good player,” Kyle LePage said. “When we get the ball in the post, they can’t help off of him, so we get 1-on-1 in the post. And when they do help off of him, he’s outside sticking shots. He’s a good contributor to our offense, a perfect role model.”

That was on display Wednesday. Obert scored a game-high 27 points, and always came through when his team needed him most. In the first quarter, he scored 10 of Skowhegan’s first 12 points to help the River Hawks take control right away with a 12-4 lead. In the third, when Cony tied the game for the first time at 42, Obert came right back on the next series with a 3-pointer to give Skowhegan a 45-42 lead. And in the fourth, his last scoring run helped settle the game for good.

“(My job is) just to shoot when I’m open, and to bring energy,” Obert said. “That’s kind of what’s always been my game, shooting outside and going inside when I need it and getting it to the big men.”

Skowhegan’s Levi Obert, center, drives the ball through Nokomis defenders Dawson Townsend, left, and Madden White during boys basketball action last month in Skowhegan. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel

Obert has shown before that he’s not the player to leave open when the game gets close. In 2019, seventh-seeded Skowhegan upset No. 2 Hampden Academy 68-63 in the Class A North quarterfinals, and it was Obert, then a freshman, who hit three 3-pointers in the third quarter that helped turn a 42-41 deficit into a 52-42 lead.

His shooting touch has been off for parts of this season. But on Wednesday, that touch was back.

“It totally rounds out the team,” Kyle LePage said. “If there are no shooters, every defender’s going to be in the post. … It’s a really big deal, having a good shooter out there to keep the offense going.”

Even when he’s not shooting, Obert has made his presence felt as one of the team’s elder statesmen, helping to make sure the team is focused and ready to go.

“I tell the younger guys what to do, where to be, and just to play their game. They’re all very talented,” he said. “I’ve usually been like a show-me type of leader. I kind of enjoy being the verbal leader this year.”

For Obert, that means doing whatever the team needs. On Wednesday, it was shooting the basketball. But he’s also the team leader in charges taken, and as Nadeau said, he’s gained an ability to deliver just what the River Hawks are looking for.

“He does a lot of little things for us that a lot of people don’t see,” Nadeau said. “He’s a senior. He understands. He’s gone through four years of this, he knows exactly what we want out of him. And he does a good job with it.”

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