NEWPORT — There was still a buzz lingering in the Nokomis Regional High School gym in the moments following the boys basketball team’s 72-43 victory over Brewer, when coach Earl Anderson said what the scoreboard already made apparent.

“This is a fun environment to play in. It’s an awesome environment,” he said, “and they love to play. They love to play every game, but the better the opponent, they love it.”

Thursday night showed that, and the season as a whole has shown it. Nokomis now sports Class A North’s best record at 10-1, and the Warriors have done it against the best teams the region could throw at them. It’s common practice to scrutinize a team’s impressive record by considering the competition it has faced, but Nokomis passes that check. The Warriors have faced 9-1 Brewer twice, 9-3 Skowhegan twice and 9-3 Cony once, and gone 4-1 against those teams while outscoring them by an average of 15.8 points.

The Warriors aren’t just talented, they’ve been tested. And so far, they’re passing all the tests.

Nokomis’ Cooper Flagg (32) dunks over Brewer’s Cameron Hughes (34) and Aaron Newcomb (20) during a boys basketball game Thursday in Newport. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

“It’s obviously really good to see,” said freshman center Cooper Flagg, who had 30 points, 10 rebounds and five blocks in the victory Thursday over the previously undefeated Witches. “That one was really just a statement right there. … We all know who we are and what we’re capable of. There’s never been a doubt in our minds.”

“I’m happy with our development,” Anderson added. “We’ve got a long ways to go, we’re in the second half of the season, we’ve got a lot of things that we can get better at and that we’re going to continue to get better at. So we’re not going to be satisfied, but I like our progress.”


For all of their talent, however, there was the youth question facing Nokomis. Good as they are, Cooper and Ace Flagg are freshmen. Alex Grant, a starting guard and the Warriors’ top perimeter threat, is a sophomore, as is guard Connor Sides. Madden White, a junior, is the elder statesman in the lineup.

Ask White, however, and he said there was never a worry about how the Warriors would handle the biggest games and the strongest opponents.

“Absolutely. We’ve got all the talent in the world. We’ve got Cooper, who’s an animal. He could get every single rebound if he wanted to,” he said. “We’ve got big kids that can play in big games. … Growing up together, we’ve all had a lot of confidence in each other.”

Hunter Flagg, Cooper and Ace’s older brother and one of five seniors on the team, echoed that point.

“It just speaks to the level of play that all of us can rise up to. No matter who we play, we feel like we have a chance against anybody,” he said. “We all know what we’re capable of as a team, we all know coach believes in us and we believe in him. We’ve just got to work. I really feel like we set the stage for ourselves, and what we want to accomplish.”

The Nokomis bench celebrates a three-pointer against Brewer during a boys basketball game Thursday in Newport. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

Initially, it appeared the Warriors had some growing to do, as Brewer stymied them 57-46 in a mid-December matchup. But that confidence White referenced wasn’t dented.


“After that loss, we realized all we’ve got to do is just pick it up,” White said. “Push the ball, just play our game.”

A simple adjustment, but an effective one, as Nokomis since has only grown more formidable. Against Cony on Jan. 8, the Warriors weathered the Rams’ hot start and caught fire in the third quarter, turning a 30-15 deficit into a 61-37 lead in the span of 12 minutes en route to an 80-53 win.

On Thursday, Nokomis’s ability to separate was on display again against another preseason favorite. Brewer took a quick 6-2 lead, but the Warriors scored 22 of the next 24 points to mount a 24-8 lead. The game was all but over; the Witches never got closer than 13 points, and the raucous crowd packing the bleachers got an exclamation point on the night in the third when Ace Flagg stole the ball, saw Cooper taking off up the court and fed him for a breakaway one-handed dunk.

“That’s just my favorite play right there,” Cooper Flagg said. “In my head, I know that if I’m in the fast break I’m going to rise up and throw one down.”

Now the schedule gets easier, at least on paper. Nokomis’s remaining opponents entered Friday a combined 25-44, but Anderson said this isn’t time for his team to relax.

“Class A North is really, really good,” he said. “We didn’t win anything (Thursday). We won a regular season game, but it’s not our season. … In this game, (you need) short memory. If you did something good, you can’t be patting yourself on the back. You’ve got to move on.”

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