NEWPORT — For three quarters, it was a close game.

The Cony boys basketball team was battling with first-place Nokomis, and had endured a tough start to the third quarter to take a 43-41 lead late in the period. The Rams were showing resilience and battling, and had the Warriors showing bouts of frustration as what appeared to be a fight to the finish was setting up.

And then, in a heartbeat, it was another Warrior runaway. In just under four and a half minutes, a two-point Cony lead turned into a 13-point Nokomis lead, with the Warriors scoring 15 straight points. Nokomis never looked back, and ended up winning 78-50. A back-and-forth contest, turned into a 30-point game in what felt like the blink of an eye.

“They’re explosive,” Cony coach T.J. Maines said. “There’s no doubt.”

Keeping pace with the Nokomis boys is like keeping up with Secretariat at the Belmont. Opponents might be able to stay with the Warriors for a quarter, a half or even longer. But all it takes is that one slip-up — a couple of turnovers, a quick dry spell from the floor or a momentary drop in defensive intensity — for that opponent to be left staggering, looking at a 20-point deficit and wondering what the heck just happened.

Maines saw it for himself. His team arrived in Newport ready to play Tuesday night. But the Rams blinked once, and it was over.


“They’re a really good team,” he said. “I don’t think there’s any doubt that that’s the most talented team, certainly in A North but probably in the entire state. It’s going to take a really special effort for someone to beat them.”

Nokomis ‘ Madden White (35) drives to the basket as Cony’s Parker Sergent (33) defends during boys basketball action Tuesday in Newport. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

Cony’s seen it twice — in the teams’ first matchup, Nokomis turned a 34-29 deficit in the first half into a 61-37 lead in just one quarter. But other opponents have seen the quick strike ability as well. On Jan. 20, Nokomis turned a 6-2 deficit against Brewer into a 24-8 lead in just over six minutes.

“We’re just a very talented team, so I think it’s hard to guard all five of us when we’re playing as a whole,” said freshman Cooper Flagg, who had 26 points and 17 rebounds against Cony Tuesday. “That’s what we do. We’re always going to wear out the other team and push the ball, so once we get into transition, no one can stop us.”

Flagg is a major factor in Nokomis’s breakaway ability. With his height, length and instincts on the defensive end of the court, he can punish teams for a few missed shots by snatching rebounds or rushed passes by picking them off and turning into a one-man fastbreak. He had three such dunks in the second half Tuesday.

“I think our mindset should be that this is always our moment,” Flagg said. “Definitely sometimes, it’s like ‘OK, now is the time to elevate.'”

Nokomis’ Alex Grant (4) is fouled by Cony’s Kam Douin (3) during boys basketball action Tuesday in Newport. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

Flagg changes the equation, but he’s not alone in making Nokomis a high-powered outfit. Twin brother Ace (14 points Tuesday) is often his partner in crime in transition and on the boards once the team finds its rhythm. And in players like Alex Grant, Connor Sides and Madden White, the Warriors have players that can get hot at any moment. On Tuesday, it was Sides’s turn, as the sophomore poured in 10 of his 18 points late in the third and early in the fourth to bury the Rams.


“It’s great. Everyone can score on the team,” Sides said. “We’ve got good shooters, we’ve got good scorers, we’ve got good passers. That’s what happens, we know we’re just as good as everyone else when we feel like we’re on.”

Impressive as it is to see, coach Earl Anderson said there can be a frustration that comes with watching his team pull away late.

“It’s nice to see, but as a coach, I’m thinking ‘Where was that for the first three quarters?'” he said. “Even on that run, I’m thinking ‘Where was that? Why don’t we do that for four quarters?'”

Anderson knows his team can still be better, and his players know it as well. But even if the Warriors aren’t completely clicking to start, they’re confident that that breakthrough can come at any moment.

“We always know what we’re capable of,” Cooper Flagg said. “That stretch where we always punch them back in the face, we’re just waiting for it to happen. It always ends up happening, so I think that’s really good for us. We know it’s going to happen eventually, so we just have to stay locked in.”

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