BRUNSWICK — The way Brunswick shot the ball in the first half of Wednesday’s Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference matchup with highly-regarded Edward Little, the Dragons appeared to be on the way to an easy victory.
But, the Red Eddies figured things out, took over in the second quarter and pulled away in the second half for a 60-41 win and a 2-0 start to the regular season.
Brunswick fell to 1-1 and visits Hampden Academy on Friday, while the Red Eddies head north as well, visiting Bangor on Friday night.
Llewellyn Jensen led the way for EL. He took over in the second quarter, scoring 12 of his game-high 27 points. In the second half, Ian Mileikis scored 14 of his 22 points as the Red Eddies turned a 30-24 halftime lead into a comfortable 46-30 edge heading to the fourth.
“The last three quarters we buckled down defensively,” EL coach Mike Adams said. “We are fairly long and athletic, and we tried to get after it. We did a good job looking for each other, not just passing around the perimeter and looking for jump shots. Our shot chart in the third quarter, everything was inside.”
Brunswick coach Todd Hanson felt EL’s experience took over after his team’s hot start.
“It was a great start, but I think EL’s experience showed up in the second quarter and throughout the game,” Hanson said. “That is a very good basketball team that we played tonight. Physically they are better than us and skill-wise they are better than us, a tough combination to overcome.”
Trailing 11-10 midway through the first quarter, Brunswick found its flow. Cost hit a 3-pointer for a 13-11 lead, igniting a quarter-closing 9-0 run. Alex Bandouveres went hard to the basket for two points, and Taran Payne drained a trey. A free throw by Josh Dorr completed the run.
“They scored 19 points in the first quarter and we did a poor job defending,” said Adams. “You always have to worry about a team like this. Todd Hanson is a great coach with a great team, and nobody talks about them having superstars. They are just all good players.”
EL’s ability to chase down offensive rebounds came into play in the second quarter. Led by Jensen, EL turned a 24-17 deficit with 5:02 remaining until halftime into a 30-24 halftime lead. Jensen scored six points in the run, finding with 18 points, five rebounds, two steals and two assists in 16 minutes of work. EL held an 18-10 edge on the boards, including 11 offensive rebounds for second-chance opportunities.
“They took us out of what we wanted to do with their pressure defense, and we knew it was coming but didn’t have an answer for it,” said Hanson after watching his team make just 1-of-8 from the field in the second quarter and commit five turnovers.
“We were not ready out of the gate, and it gave us a wake-up call,” said Jensen of his team’s slow start. “We picked up offensively with our ball movement. Everyone got touches and we were active. We have played together for a long while now, and we have that chemistry.”
The 13-0 EL run to close the first half continued into the third quarter. Mileikis, who had eight first-half points, went hard to the basket and was fouled for a three-point play. After Brunswick’s Thomas Hanson ended the 15-0 EL run, the Red Eddies quickly put together an 8-0 spurt, with Jensen scoring five points for a 41-26 EL lead.
Brunswick heated up to begin the final frame, with Thomas Hanson, Cost and Payne each hitting a 3-pointer, but Mileikis popped for eight more points. Jensen finished off his big night with four consecutive free throws.
“We want to improve. We have a good body of work to go on to try and keep improving,” said Todd Hanson.
EL was 24-of-67 from the field (35 percent) and made 8-of-15 from the foul line. The Red Eddies held a 36-23 rebounding advantage. Elijah Roe added six points, 10 rebounds, three assists and three steals, with Jensen pulling down a game-high 12 boards. Mileikis had three steals.
Cost paced Brunswick with 11 points, with Thomas Hanson adding nine and Payne eight. After the hot start, the Dragons shot 21 percent (6-of-28) over the final three quarters.