NEWPORT — Seth Bradstreet III knows how it feels to have a community behind you. He has felt it for decades.

A player on the 1977 Nokomis Regional High School boys basketball team that for 45 years was the most successful in program history, Bradstreet would walk down the street or into a store or restaurant and have people greeting him, and wanting to talk about the trip to the Eastern Maine final all those decades ago.

“What that community did for us as a team, we remember today,” he said. “For years, and literally decades, people would come up to you and say, ‘Hey, I remember that game.’ For decades, we had people giving us high-fives in the street.”

Now, Bradstreet is seeing it again. He is seeing the way the Nokomis community has fallen head over heels for this boys basketball team, which faces Falmouth in the Class A state championship game at 3 p.m. Saturday at the Cross Insurance Arena in Portland.

A victory would give Nokomis its first state championship in program history and delight its hoops-crazy fan base. Forward Cooper Flagg, a 6-foot-7-inch freshman whose thundering dunks provided an electric atmosphere in the Class A North tournament last week in Augusta, has only intensified the buzz that engulfed the Warriors this winter.

“They’re all looking for something positive to get behind,” said Bradstreet, 62, a farmer who often works at The Farmer’s Table, a Corinna restaurant owned by his wife, Debbie. “People work 51 weeks a year to take a week off in February to go to Bangor, now Augusta to watch basketball. The following of this team is just incredible.”


The Northern Maine tournament, and its aftermath, have provided proof. Nokomis fans comprised a massive chunk of the more than 4,400 fans who filled the Augusta Civic Center to its back rows for the final against Brewer. And when the team returned to Newport, it was greeted by a convoy of fire engines and police cars from all eight towns in the school district to escort it back to Nokomis. Some, from children to older fans, took off their shirts and waved them in the cold night air to celebrate the Warriors’ victory.

One can only imagine what the reception would be if Nokomis were to defeat Falmouth for the state championship Saturday, giving eight towns — Newport, Corinna, Palmyra, Plymouth, Dixmont, Etna, St. Albans and Hartland — the prize they had long coveted.

“They love this team,” said Nokomis High School secretary and resident superfan Terrie Murray, emphasizing the second word. “Not just because they win. They absolutely love them anyway. A lot of it is you have parents that have gone to the high school, then they have children (who play). It’s just a tradition going right straight through.”

A drive around the area shows the support the team has from the community. Signs reading “Bring Home The Gold” and “Proud of Our Warriors” are in windows at The Farmer’s Table. Newport Glass Inc. also has a sign. So does Sebasticook Recreation & Sport, also in Newport, and American Legion Post 73 in Corinna.

Terrie Murray, secretary at Nokomis Regional High School in Newport, sits Tuesday at her work area, which includes a basketball-shaped penholder. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel

Bear’s One Stop in Newport has a sign that owner Bob Berg makes sure to update. Leading up to a quarterfinal matchup with Messalonskee, the sign read: “Good luck Messalonskee. You’re going to need it.”

“Oh, they’re the talk of the town,” Berg said. “They’re probably the best thing to happen to Nokomis High School and the town in a long time. You can’t go out there 15 minutes, and someone’s asking about it, or they’re talking about it: ‘They should play defense,’ ‘They should do this,’ ‘They’re doing good,’ ‘We like the dunks,’ ‘I like this guy.’ It’s all the same stuff.”


While talking with employees Carter Rice and Amanda Wentworth, Berg coined a phrase to describe the interest and excitement — “Nokomis fever.” It is fitting.

“They took the entire basketball world by storm this year,” said Rice, a senior at Nokomis High.

“I graduated in ’06, and I still went to the games,” Wentworth added. “It’s not something that happens often. It’s a good time to go watch them play.”

Bradstreet said it is the same at his restaurant. When he walks through, he hears Warriors talk.

“Every day,” he said. “They relive every game.”

The Warriors have seen that support all season as crowds filled the bleachers at home games. With freshmen Cooper and Ace Flagg making their way through middle school, the buildup to this season had already been in the works.


Seth Bradstreet III, 62, smiles Tuesday while discussing the Nokomis Regional High School boys basketball team at his restaurant, The Farmer’s Table, in Corinna. The Warriors play Falmouth in the Class A state game at 3 p.m. Saturday in Portland. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel

“They’ve been kind of keeping an eye on them from middle school up,” Murray said.

It has been a love fest since the season began.

“It’s awesome,” sophomore guard Alex Grant said. “You have people that we don’t even know coming to our games, cheering us on, giving us high-fives after games. It’s really supportive. The whole community, everyone, they’ve seen our whole team coming up since we were little. They always talked about ‘high school level, you’re going to do something.’ Making it a reality now is such a fun feeling.”

The interest has always been there; it was just dormant. Bradstreet spoke of the reception his team received in 1977, and Murray, whose daughter, Michelle, played for the 2001 girls team that won the school’s only basketball state title, remembered the community going wild for those Warriors, too. But the boys basketball program stumbled into lean years after reaching the Class A North semifinals in 2018, winning only one game two years ago.

“We haven’t had a lot of positive things to talk about here in the last four or five years,” Bradstreet said.

That has changed this season, as the story of the state has unfolded in front of them.


“This year, everybody came to life,” Cooper Flagg said. “It’s been really special having everyone come out, and having us excite everyone in the community once again.”

Cooper Flagg (32) of Nokomis Regional High School dunks the ball last Saturday during the Class A North championship game against Brewer at the Augusta Civic Center. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

Flagg’s celebrity has sparked the statewide interest, but he is not the only factor sparking the interest of the Nokomis fanbase. His dunks and passes are topics for conversation, but so is Ace Flagg’s work around the basket. And Connor Sides’s defense. And Grant’s shooting. And Madden White’s play in transition.

“Almost every conversation has got the word ‘team’ in it, which I find impressive,” Berg said.

“It’s a group that knows how to play the game,” Bradstreet said. “They understand the game, they pass the ball well. Cooper could score 50 points a game if he wanted to, but he gets 10 or 12 assists. He can find them. They all do. They understand and play the game very, very well.”

Murray, the school’s secretary, said the team’s chemistry endears it to people inside and outside the school.

“Cooper and Ace are wonderful. But the team as a whole plays so well together,” she said. “And each one knows exactly where the other one’s going to be.”

As the team has come together, it has had the same effect on the community. It can be difficult to get a network of eight different towns aligned on anything, but when it comes to the Warriors, everyone is united.

“When we get something to rally behind, man, we’re all one,” Bradstreet said. “We’re Nokomis. That’s who we are. At some point, it’s going to get tough again, and there are going to be some tough decisions, and we’re going to be divided on some issues, but we’re going to remember this ’22 class for a long time.”

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