Skowhegan’s Kyle LePage (32) and Adam Savage (34) defend Brewer’s Brady Saunders (13) in the first half of a Dec. 9 basketball game in Skowhegan. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

AUGUSTA — Coming off the madness that was Cooper Flagg Mania, there were questions as to how Maine boys basketball would follow up this year without the Nokomis sensation.

Well, there’s been plenty of tense moments, fanatical crowds, thunderous dunks, smooth handles and star power this season — and you don’t have to look beyond the same Class A North region to find it.

From start to finish, A North has seen some of the best battles the state has had to offer this year. The region has players and teams who can hypnotize up and down the field, setting the stage for another tournament that won’t disappoint fans headed to the Augusta Civic Center.

“You have a lot of really exciting teams and a lot of really exciting players,” said Cony head coach Isaiah Brathwaite. “It’s a tough conference, and you’ve seen upsets left and right all throughout the year. I think you’re going to see some more really great games.”

At the top of Class A North all season long has been Brewer (17-1), which enters the postseason as the region’s top seed. Led by a duo of top forwards in Brock Flagg and Mr. Maine Basketball semifinalist Brady Saunders, the Witches have looked every bit the team many picked to win the regional crown before the season.

Brewer, despite finishing well ahead of the pack, is by no means invincible. After ripping through opponents the first half of the season, the Witches were taken to overtime by Nokomis and Messalonskee in mid-January. They would suffer their first loss Feb. 3 — a 49-48 decision to visiting Skowhegan.


“I think it’s definitely (a more balanced league than earlier in this season), but I think Brewer is still the favorite,” said Nokomis head coach Earl Anderson. “They have an outstanding record at 17-1, and they’re still the team to beat. I’d put them and Skowhegan as the two favorites.”

The A North coaches’ preseason No. 1 pick, Skowhegan stumbled out of the gate as it got off to an 0-3 start. But the River Hawks would recover to finish 12-6 and claim the region’s No. 3 seed, earning impressive wins over Mt. Blue, Brewer and Cony along the way.

Skowhegan’s success begins with its size, something the River Hawks have plenty of in 6-foot-5 trio Kyle LePage, Collin LePage and Adam Savage. They can rebound and throw down and, with Savage playing the role of the ultimate heel, there’s a swagger about them that has opposing teams on notice.

“They look like what people thought they would be back at the beginning of the season,” Mt. Blue head coach Troy Norton. “Against Cony toward the end of the season, they looked unbelievable. I’m watching that game, and I’m thinking, ‘All right, I hope we don’t match up with them.’ They really put themselves back in the mix.”

Skowhegan will take on sixth-ranked Lawrence (8-10) in the first A North boys quarterfinal at 4 p.m. Saturday. The Bulldogs, led by guards Conner Nutting and Dane Zawistowski, were on a roll earlier in the season but will head to Augusta needing to snap a seven-game losing streak.

Speaking of players with swagger, Norton’s Mt. Blue squad has its own in guard Evans Sterling, one of the most electrifying players in the state with the ball in his hands. The No. 4 Cougars (12-6) also boast an elite 3-point shooter in Chandler Briggs and a deep roster that can yield a number of contributors on a given night.


Mt. Blue will be in possibly the most intriguing A North quarterfinal matchup when it faces No. 5 Cony (11-7) at 7:30 p.m. Saturday. The Cougars split a pair of thrilling regular season matchups with the Rams, who have a pair of top shooters in Parker Sergent and Alex Fournier and a double-double machine in Kam Douin.

“We both have very guard-heavy play both ways, so we’re kind of very similar teams,” Douin said. “We had two great games against them this year, and I think both teams are pretty confident going into it. It should be a pretty even, high-scoring game, I would say.”

Brewer’s Saunders isn’t the only local player on the list of Mr. Basketball finalists, which also includes Nokomis forward Madden White. After playing third fiddle to Cooper and Ace Flagg most of his life, White stepped up as the No. 1 option for the Warriors this year and helped the team to a 13-5 regular season and the No. 2 seed.

Nokomis’ Madden White (35) drives the baseline as Erskine’s Kaden Porter (24) defends during a Dec. 27, 2022 boys basketball game at the Augusta Civic Center. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

The Warriors will play at 5:30 p.m. Saturday against a Messalonskee team led by 6-foot-9 sophomore Merrick Smith, who boasts well-crafted footwork and post moves. The No. 7 Eagles (7-11) started 1-8 before going 6-3 in the second half of the regular season.

“They’re a very talented team, and they’re definitely better than their record,” Anderson, whose team is on a five-game winning streak, said of Messalonskee. “The key for us is our half-court defense, and our half-court defense has gotten better and better. When we do that and rebound the ball on the defensive glass, we’re pretty good.”

Even Camden Hills, the lowest seed in the tournament, has the potential to make some noise. Norton learned firsthand what the Windjammers can do in Camden’s 73-59 win over his Cougars in last Friday’s regular season finale, a showing that has him thinking the No. 8 seed might just make things interesting.

“Their point guard, Will Duke, is really good, and they had a freshman (Nolan Ames) who scored 23 points against us,” Norton said. “They can shoot the ball, and if they’re able to hit enough 3s against you, that can keep the game close.”

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