BRUNSWICK – Presented with the ultimate opportunity to play out the string, the Leavitt Area High School boys’ basketball team has chosen instead to play like champions.

No. 10 Leavitt weaved a nearly perfect game Thursday night to scuttle No. 7 Brunswick, 67-59, in a first-round tournament clash and advance to the Eastern Class A quarterfinals for the second time in three years.

The Hornets (10-9) will square off with the second-seeded Bangor Rams (17-1) at 5:30 p.m. Saturday in Augusta. Leavitt is 3-1 with three straight victories since Christian Gurney took over as interim coach after Mike Remillard’s firing on Jan. 31.

“It’s great to have a head coaching opportunity when you have a team like I do,” said Gurney. “We have a senior-loaded team. They deserve this.”

Three of those upperclassmen might have saved the best game of their respective careers for the same night.

Tyler Millett led Leavitt with 23 points. Cameron Angell added 21, including three gigantic 3-pointers in the first half. And Matt Nash played the point guard from central casting, dishing out an astonishing 16 assists to complement 11 points and seven rebounds.

“It’s amazing. I’ve been playing my whole life for this,” Nash said. “It’s a huge opportunity. We’ve got to get back to work and not celebrate this too long.”

Leavitt shot 56 percent from the field, kept turnovers to a bare minimum and sank 9-of-10 from the free-throw line in the final minute to turn away Brunswick for the second time in three meetings this winter.

The Hornets landed the 13th and final lead change on Nash’s drive-and-dish to Millett for one of many uncontested lay-ups with 5:17 remaining. Millett knocked down a catch-and-shoot 3-pointer and Nash nailed an open 12-footer to make it a 7-0 run and a 56-50 lead with 4:06 to play.

Brunswick (11-8) brought it back within two on a transition bucket by Corey Underwood and two Connor Breisacher free throws. Nash answered with a short-range bank shot, however, and Leavitt aced its impending test at the charity stripe.

“They cause a lot of match-up problems, not just for us but for anybody,” said Brunswick coach Todd Hanson. “They are going to be a tough out.”

Underwood led the Dragons with 14 points. Travis O’Dell added 13 and Breisacher nine for Brunswick.

O’Dell scored five points in a 7-0 surge to open the game, but Brian Taylor and Nash fed a pair of Angell 3-pointers in an 18-second span to steady the Hornets.

“I was feeling it in the shootaround before the game,” Angell said. “Our guys did a good job feeding it to me from the post.”

Leavitt maintained its stellar selection when the game took a frenetic or a leisurely pace. Millett maximized open looks down low to score six in each of the first two quarters, and the Hornets overcame a modest 21-19 deficit at the end of one to lead 32-31 at the break.

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