Cooper Flagg (32) and the Nokomis boys basketball team helped bring a lot of fan into the building during the Maine high school basketball tournament. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

Some quick thoughts in the area and region as temperatures rise and I crack the windows open in my house for the first time in 2022…

Thanks to the Flaggs: I stood on the walkway of the second level of the Augusta Civic Center for a moment during the Class A North regional boys basketball final between Nokomis and Brewer. Looking out into a sea of fans, who packed the ACC to the rafters, only one thought crossed my mind: I hope the Maine Principals’ Association sends a thank you card to the Flagg family.

It’s no secret the MPA relies heavily on gate receipts when it comes to the high school basketball tournament. After a year of not having the tourney — thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic — a strong postseason of fan attendance was needed.

Enter Cooper, Ace and Hunter Flagg.

No team had more hype surrounding it throughout the season than Nokomis thanks to the trio of brothers, particularly freshmen Cooper — who would go on to be named the Maine Gatorade Player of the Year — and Ace. Social media videos and various stories on the Flaggs only added fuel to the fire. It all came to a head in Augusta during the playoffs. Though there was strong attendance for other games during the tournament, no team brought a bigger or more consistent presence than the Nokomis boys. Many fans, who had no rooting interest at all in the Warriors or their opponents, attended games simply to see if the hype was real. Heck, even former NBA player and current NBC Sports Boston basketball analyst Brian Scalabrine made the trip north to watch the Class A final (though it was later revealed in an in-game interview that Scalabrine has a friendship with the family).

Nokomis lived up to the hype, winning the Class A title. And the Warriors, particularly, the Flaggs, brought the fans in droves. The MPA, no doubt, is counting its lucky stars they arrived at the right time.


Cowan the right person for job at UMaine-Augusta: Heath Cowan had no idea he’d be the head coach of the women’s basketball team at the University of Maine at Augusta when the season started in October. When the job was open in November, he was a planning a fishing weekend.

“I called (UMA athletic director Christopher Hart) back the next day — this is a Thursday — and I’m like ‘Yup, this is something I want to do, let’s do it,'” Cowan said earlier this month. “He said, ‘What are you doing Saturday?’ I thought we were going to (meet up and) get wings, talk behind the scenes. And I (already) told him I’m going fishing. He’s like, ‘Well, we’ve got our conference opener on Saturday.'”

Cowan, a long-time coach on the central Maine high school basketball scene — including an Eastern Class A title with the Skowhegan girls basketball team in 2010 — was quickly on the sidelines. Over the course of the next three months, the Moose (19-9) would have their most successful season since the 2017-2018 season under Jennifer Laney. UMA also made an appearance in the United States Collegiate Athletic Association tournament.

Laney, who coached the Moose for eight seasons, stepped down from the position after that 2017-2018 season. Since then, UMA has had Alex Stern (2018-2019), Jim Seavey (2019-2021) and now Cowan lead the program.

Cowan was able to get the Moose in line within three months, and as of earlier this month, seemed to be ready to lead UMA into the future. After a few years and what seems a revolving door, the Moose may finally have their coach, for multiple seasons, going forward.

Are the Pats alive?: Several teams have made big splashes early on in the NFL free agency period.


One team that hasn’t made a splash? The New England Patriots.

Instead, the Patriots have re-signed several mainstays, including special teams ace Matthew Slater, safety Devin McCourty, backup quarterback Brian Hoyer, running back James White, kicker Nick Folk and offensive lineman James Ferentz. It was also reported Friday that linebacker Ja’Whaun Bentley will return to Foxborough.

Several of those make sense. Slater and McCourty are both productive at their respective positions and fan favorites, although both are in the latter half of their careers. White is a Super Bowl LI favorite coming off a major hip injury. Though far from the best backup in the NFL, Hoyer has been praised as a great mentor for current starting QB Mac Jones. Folk was among the best kickers in the league last year.

Heath Cowan was ready to go on a fishing trip before he was offered the head coach position for the University of Maine at Augusta women’s basketball team in November. Cowan led the Moose to its most successful season since 2017-2018. Andy Molloy/Kennebec Journal

However, the Pats haven’t hit any of their major needs as of yet. They haven’t signed a premier wide receiver for Jones, and the top target on the free agent market, Allen Robinson, signed with the Los Angeles Rams on Thursday. New England still needs a shutdown cornerback, especially after losing J.C. Jackson, who signed a five-year, $82 million contract with the Los Angeles Chargers this week. If that wasn’t enough, you can add guard to the list, since the Patriots traded Shaq Mason to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for a fifth-round draft pick this week. New England also lost Ted Karras to a free agent deal with the Cincinnati Bengals.

If you go to New England’s website, you will find one starter for both guard spots for the team’s unofficial depth chart: Mike Onwenu.

Either head coach Bill Belichick believes he already has the horses in-house to make a run this fall — an interesting call for a team that finished 10-8 and was out of the playoffs in the wild card round — or he’s planning to heavily replenish in the draft.

Belichick has a lot of work ahead before the season kicks off in September. It’s OK to start working on that — by signing a significant free agent or two — right now.

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