SKOWHEGAN — This one got nuts.

A fourth quarter in which the game seemed to hinge on every possession? A last-second jumper to force overtime? Another last-second shot to seemingly force a second overtime? And then, to cap it off, a technicality to decide the whole thing?

Yeah, this one was nuts. When it was done, it was the Skowhegan boys basketball team escaping the madness with a 60-57 victory over Brewer, in a matchup of two of Class A North’s top three teams.

It wasn’t a tournament game. But boy, it felt like it. From the quality of the teams to the sound of the fans to the late drama on the court, the only thing separating Skowhegan’s gym Thursday night from the Augusta Civic Center was a few more seats.

“Intense,” Skowhegan coach Tom Nadeau said with a laugh afterward. “Hey, it’s two tournament-caliber teams.”

Oh, and let’s add to the mix a healthy dose of edginess. The River Hawks (13-3) haven’t been too fond of the growing perception around the state basketball scene that Class A North is a two-horse race between Brewer (15-2) and Nokomis (15-1).


“(There’s been) a lot of talk about Brewer and Nokomis,” said Collin LePage, who scored 28 points. “We wanted to change that tonight.”

“We haven’t been talked about. It’s all been Brewer and Nokomis talk,” added senior Levi Obert, who scored 10 points and hit a massive 3-pointer at the start of overtime. “We just had to go prove them wrong.”

They did, but they took a wild and wacky path to get there. Skowhegan never trailed after the third quarter, but just couldn’t finish off the Witches. The River Hawks led 47-42 with 27.7 seconds left in regulation, but could only watch as Brewer’s Brady Saunders splashed a pull-up jumper with 0.7 seconds left to force overtime.

No problem. Skowhegan bounced right back in overtime and took a 58-54 lead on two Patrick McKenney free throws with 14.9 seconds left — only to see Brewer pull its Lazarus effect again when Aaron Newcomb (15 points) got the ball at the top of the arc and hit a three while being fouled with 2.7 seconds left.

Watching the shot go in, LePage could only chuckle in disbelief.

“When they hit that three-and-one, I just stood there and laughed at it,” he said. “I was like ‘This is unreal.'”


Newcomb’s free throw hit nothing but twine, but then came the strangest twist of the night. Officials whistled Brewer for a lane violation, negating the point and giving the River Hawks the ball back as Skowhegan fans roared their approval. Seconds later, after a pair of LePage free throws, it was over.

Brewer coach Ben Goodwin said he didn’t know who the violation was called on.

“I’m not sure. He said one of my kids might have been on the line (in) the lane,” he said. “It’s just a tough call at this point in the game. But it is what it is. It shouldn’t have come down to that play.”

The call effectively put an end to a game that saw the Witches and River Hawks duel down the stretch in what felt like a playoff atmosphere. The volume rose as Skowhegan made the plays to seemingly pull away in the fourth — only for those cheers to be stuffed back down when Saunders made his shot.

The crowd was stunned. The River Hawks weren’t.

Skowhegan’s Kyle LePage, front, looks to pass the ball as Brewer defender Colby Smith defends during a Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class A game Thursday night in Skowhegan. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

“We’re always talking about a ‘clear your head, next play’ mentality,” Obert said. “Just focus on the next play. We kind of knew we had it if we play our game.”


Obert, Skowhegan’s resident clutch shot maven, backed up those words in overtime, immediately drilling a 3-pointer to put the River Hawks ahead 51-48. He fought for a loose ball on the next possession and got it awarded to Skowhegan, and then got free for a layup and a 53-48 advantage.

“I try to have nothing on my mind,” Obert said of his thinking before the go-ahead three. “It’s just another shot to me.”

Brewer fought back, but the River Hawks leaned on LePage, excellent all night, to take them to the end. He had a rebound and two free throws with under a minute left for a 56-52 lead, and after the violation call in the closing seconds, chased down a long inbound pass and slid into the wall after being fouled to — finally — ice the win.

Sporting fresh scrapes on his arm and knee, LePage hit both free throws.

“It was working all game, so I just said ‘I need to keep going,'” he said. “This is huge going into the tournament for us. It gives us all the confidence in the world.”

Nadeau had high marks for his team, and understandably so. Few victories from here on out are going to require surviving the gut punches that this one did.


“We’ve been in that spot before, this group of guys in the last couple of years, and they typically have responded well,” said Nadeau, who also got 10 points, eight in the fourth, from Kyle LePage. “They typically get after it.”

Even in the moments after the stunning ending, Goodwin, who got 12 points apiece from Brock Flagg and Colby Smith, could appreciate how his own team had impressed as well when it mattered most.

“We haven’t had a tight game the last couple of weeks, and this makes us better,” he said. “I think it was a great high school game. Two good teams, really going at it.”

Who knows, there could be a sequel in a few weeks. Let’s hope it’s as good as the original.

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