EL improved to 6-0, but coach Mike Adams said his team learned a valuable lesson one game after surprising defending Class AA champion Portland.

“You could feel it on the bus ride, when we walked in. I have been here 16 years and have played in this gym and I know what happens here,” Adams said. “They are not scared of us. They came out to play and brought it to us. We settled offensively and did an awful job defensively throughout the night.”

Brunswick coach Todd Hanson wanted his team to play hard and without fear. A 10-0 start to the game did that and more.

“Our theme to our guys was to come out with energy, passion, excitement, and play Brunswick basketball, and that got us off to a good start,”  Hanson said. “EL is one of the top teams in Double-A. It was a tall task, but I am very pleased at how these guys competed. Hopefully we can put our pre-New Year’s schedule behind us and move forward.”

The hot hand for Brunswick throughout the game was Nate Benoit. He scored eight of Brunswick’s first 10 points as the Dragons darted out to a 10-0 lead just two minutes into the game as the Red Eddies searched for answers.

“Nate could always shoot it. Tonight, it was crazy. We have come to expect that,” said Brunswick senior guard Josh Dorr of Benoit, who finished with 28 points and seven 3-pointers. “He has become that scorer for us.”

“Benoit was phenomenal,” said Adams. “I wasn’t happy with some our defensive assignments on him, which is on me, too. But, more than anything, it was about what he did. He is a great player.”

EL came out of a timeout and slowed the game down, scoring nine points. Both CJ Jipson and Samatar Iman nailed treys during the 9-0 run.

Brunswick didn’t panic, getting five more points from Benoit for a 15-9 advantage through a quarter.

Brunswick’s lead again grew to 10 points, 22-12 as Benoit nailed another 3-pointer. Again the Red Eddies battled back, closing the half on a 9-1 run to get to 23-21 at the intermission.

Shea answers

EL’s Darby Shea scored just three points in the first half. But, it was his third quarter sharp-shooting that brought the Red Eddies all the way back.

Shea scored 14 third-quarter points, making three straight treys as EL overtook the Dragons for a 43-38 lead after 24 minutes, with the quarter ending on a Wol Maiwen steal and dunk.

“Coach warned us about Brunswick, and on Thursday we had a bad practice and it showed in the first half,” Shea said. “We weren’t ready. But we started to come back late in the second quarter and it carried over in the second half.”

EL looked to extend its lead in the fourth quarter, with Shea adding five more points for a team-high 22.

Trailing 48-43, Brunswick made one more push as Benoit made his final 3-pointer from 25 feet to get the Dragons to 48-46. But, Jarod Norcross-Plourde (nine points), Iman (10 points) and Tyler Morin closed out the Dragons, with the Red Eddies making 10-of-14 from the free-throw line in the final frame.

“We stepped up and made the plays that we needed to, hit some free throws and made some shots in the end. It is amazing how good you look when you hit some shots,” Adams said. “We can make a million excuses of why we played the way we did — Christmas break, sleep is off, storm. It didn’t effect Brunswick today.

“Last year, we were the hunter, playing a team like undefeated Massabesic and we beat them. Brunswick is a dangerous team. They are credible. They have beaten us before and they know they can do it.”

“We have a lot of respect for EL, and we knew they would give us our best. We just hoped that we had a little bit more,” Hanson said.

“We didn’t bring the energy against Medomak, but playing Falmouth, Greely, a scrimmage with Deering and now EL, this prepares us for that tournament,” said Dorr, who finished with 10 points and three assists. “Losing a tough game like this just makes us stronger. It pushes us to get better in practice.”

Maiwen led EL on the boards with 14 as the Red Eddies held a 36-24 edge. Norcross-Plourde added 10 rebounds, with Iman and Morin dishing out three assists each.

Colby Buckham and Corban Teel had six rebounds apiece for the Dragons, with Alejandro Garcia-Sancho dishing out four assists and adding four steals. Kyle Hanson chipped in three assists.


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