AUGUSTA — Earl Anderson checked off the differences almost immediately.

“They got the curtains pulled (over the empty seats). There’s not many people here,” the Nokomis boys basketball coach said Tuesday as he looked around the Augusta Civic Center.  “This is kind of a quiet venue when it’s not packed with 6,000 people. In this type of atmosphere you can hear a pin drop.”

Yup, much has changed in the Warriors’ world since their last trip to the Civic Center, when they defeated Brewer 68-59 on Feb. 26 in the Class A North final en route to the first state championship in program history. The Flagg brothers and their thundering dunks have since moved on — Cooper and Ace to Monteverde Academy in Florida, and older sibling Hunter has graduated.

The once-routine blowout wins have become more workmanlike, as Tuesday afternoon’s 66-43 victory over Erskine before a couple hundred faithful at the Capital City Hoop Classic showed. The Warriors (3-1), who crunched the Eagles by scores of 73-31 and 7o-26 last season, trailed 18-13 early in the second quarter thanks to the hot hand of Erskine’s Tristan Anderson, who scored eight of his team-high 11 points in a 3-minute span late in the first quarter.

After some stern words by Anderson — and yes, he could be heard throughout the mostly silent Civic Center — Nokomis went on a 14-2 run that gave them a 27-20 lead with 3:24 left in the first half. Erskine cut the deficit to 36-32 in the third before Nokomis went on a 12-0 run to take control for good.

“We didn’t bring the energy in the first half that we needed to, and Erskine did, and it showed,” Anderson said. “We played much better in the second half, and we got the separation and we picked up our energy and our effort level.”


With the Flaggs gone, the Warriors have had to rely on each other, and the results showed Tuesday. Four players scored in double figures, led by junior Alex Grant’s 15 points, followed by Madden White (15 points), Grady Hartsgrove (12 points) and Dawson Townsend (10).

Nokomis’ Alex Grant (4) battles for the loose ball with Erskine’s Emmett Appel during a boys basketball game Tuesday in the Capitol City Hoop Classic at the Augusta Civic Center. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

Nokomis has some perk on defense, too. Connor Sides, a feisty 5-foot-9 point guard, led Nokomis’ third-quarter rally with four steals that led to eight points, five by Sides himself. Early in the fourth, Sides leaped to steal a pass in Erskine territory and fired the ball — all in one motion — downcourt to White, who converted the easy bucket.

“Sides impacts the game in so many ways,” Anderson said. “He is a tenacious defender and he just makes things happen. He plays with great energy.”

The praise is nice, but Sides prefers to dish some credit to his teammates. The 6-3 White, for example, also pulled down a team-high nine rebounds.

“We’re a pretty good defensive team, I would say,” Sides said. “If we have all five guys talking the whole time, we’re going to pretty good on the defensive side, and I think that’s where we excelled in the second half.”

Last season’s supporting actors are now taking center stage. Townsend, a 6-3 sophomore, didn’t start last year, but has delivered quality minutes and points while recovering from an injury suffered during football season. Hartsgrove, a 6-2 senior, displayed some great moves all afternoon, some flashy (a nifty reverse layup early in the first, a nice feed along the baseline to Seth Bowden for a second-quarter basket), and some gritty (during Nokomis’ second-quarter run, he fought past two Erskine defenders for a bucket).

“We’ve got to find ourselves,” Anderson said. “We now finally are getting healthy. We’re a work in progress. Everyone has a new role, and we’ve just to got to find ourselves and get comfortable.”

Added Sides: “With the Flaggs leaving, I think everyone’s role has changed tremendously. We’ve got scorers that last year didn’t even have to score. So once I think we come together and know our roles, we’re going to be very good.”

And if that’s the case, the roar of the crowd will drown out any pin drops the next time they play at the Civic Center.

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