AUGUSTA — With the season coming down to the final eight minutes, the Nokomis boys basketball team, one of the youngest teams in the Class A North bracket, proved itself to be pretty poised.

Cooper Flagg scored 22 points, the Warriors scored the first 12 points of the fourth quarter to break open a two-point game, and top-seeded Nokomis defeated No. 4 Cony 51-35 in the A North semifinals at the Augusta Civic Center on Wednesday.

A departure from its normal style had Cony (13-7), led by 12 points from Parker Sergent and nine apiece from Luke Briggs and Kam Douin, knocking on the door of the upset. But the Warriors (19-1), with mostly freshmen and sophomores on the court, were the ones making the plays to prevail and move one win away from the state final.

“We didn’t play very well. I’ve got to give Cony credit, they kind of do that to you,” Nokomis coach Earl Anderson said. “But I liked our response to adversity. I like our resilience.”

Of course, it helps when one of those underclassmen is Flagg, and the freshman standout was at his best when the game was at its tightest. He scored or assisted on the next 12 points after Nokomis took a 34-32 lead into the fourth, allowing the Warriors to pull away. He opened with a pair of putbacks, fed Connor Sides for a layup, dished to twin brother Ace Flagg (10 points, nine rebounds) for a basket, then capped off the run with a free throw and a reverberating dunk for a 46-32 lead with 2:51 to play.

“I know where to go to find my teammates when they’re open,” said Cooper Flagg, who also had 12 rebounds and three blocks. “I know having the ball is just the best thing for the team, and they know it too, so we get it done. It doesn’t matter really who has the ball, we all don’t care. It’s just a matter of getting it done, and we did.”


Nokomis’ defense buckled down, holding Cony to one field goal and three points in the fourth.

“It was a big test,” Anderson said. “(And) we passed the test.”

Nokomis’ Cooper Flagg (32) and Cony’s Parker Sergent (33) battle for the ball during a Class A North semifinal game Wednesday at the Augusta Civic Center. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

For three quarters the Warriors were challenged by the Rams, who lost twice to Nokomis in the regular season by a combined 55 points. Cony came out with a different tactic for the tournament matchup, however, slowing things down on offense in an effort to reduce the number of possessions and tone down Nokomis’ explosiveness.

“We knew we had to limit possessions, which goes against everything that I believe in,” Cony coach T.J. Maines said. “That’s holding onto it for a while, those kinds of things. Typically I abhor that stuff, but for us, it was what was needed.”

Early on, it was effective. The Rams came out confident, and got 10 points from Sergent and nine from Briggs en route to a 25-19 halftime lead. Even as Nokomis, which got two big threes from Alex Grant, rallied back in the third quarter, Brady Hopkins hit a 3-pointer for a 30-27 Cony lead with 3:37 left and Sergent had a nifty finish in the closing seconds to make it a two-point game.

“I’m happy with how hard our kids played. … I was really pleased with our energy and our togetherness,” Maines said. “We executed pretty well.”


Even as his team was sticking with the top seed, Maines knew there were some worrying trends, particularly on the glass.

“They had 19 points (in the first half), but I think eight or 10 were off the backboard,” he said. “And that, from the beginning, was where our problem was going to be. And then the first five they score out of halftime (were on) offensive rebounds.

“It’s difficult because there’s so much size there that Cooper and Ace, but Cooper really, he just kind of eats any ball up that’s in his wing span.”

That advantage played a key role in the game’s resolution, as Cony didn’t score a point in the fourth until Douin hit a three with 2:38 remaining.

“We gave it what we gave it,” Maines said. “I thought we played pretty well. We just did not finish it off.”

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