AUGUSTA — Pardon the awful pun, but Evans Sterling’s play could result in a golden season for the Mt. Blue boys basketball team.

Sterling scored 19 points, Charles Stevens had a double-double with 10 points and 11 rebounds, and the Cougars pulled away from Gardiner 64-38 on Thursday in the Capital City Hoop Classic at the Augusta Civic Center.

Gardiner (1-5) trailed by 11 points halfway through the third quarter before Mt. Blue (5-0) went on an 11-0 run to end any doubt about this one. Nine of those points were scored by Sterling, a 6-foot, 3-inch senior point guard, who highlighted the run when he stole the ball from a Gardiner player, raced downcourt and made a reverse lay-up to “oohs” and “aahs” from the Civic Center faithful.

Mt. Blue’s Nolan Leso looks to pass as Gardiner’s Cody Dingwell (3) and Dillion Elliot (4) apply defensive pressure during the Capital City Hoop Classic on Thursday at the Augusta Civic Center. Anna Chadwick/Morning Sentinel

It’s no wonder Sterling has generated some Maine Mr. Basketball buzz in the early going.

“Evans is leading the way,” said Mt. Blue coach Troy Norton, whose team reached the Class A North quarterfinals last season. “He’s just playing at a really high level. They (Gardiner) guarded him really well today. They made him really work; it’s probably the hardest he’s had to work all season. His leadership has been incredible.

“You know the old adage that the great player makes everyone better? I think that definitely applies to him.”


Sterling offered a little bit of everything Thursday.

You want defense? Sterling had eight rebounds, and at the beginning of each half, he swatted a shot attempt — from the same Gardiner player, no less — that would make any flyswatter proud.

You want passing? Sterling threaded a pinpoint pass from the point and through a mass of humanity to Nolan Leso, who converted the basket in the lane.

You want pass receiving? In the second quarter, Sterling somehow slipped behind an unsuspecting Gardiner defense and took a perfect pass in the lane from Joshua Greenlaw all alone for the easy layup.

But for the accolades, this team is more than The Sterling Show. Leso had 14 points and eight rebounds and Tucker Fitch came off the bench to score eight fourth-quarter points.

Mt. Blue outrebounded Gardiner 37-17.


“Today was a big game to show that we’re more than a one-man team,” Norton said. “Evans, he’s a great player, but we’re showing we have a balanced attack as well.”

Mt. Blue’s Evans Sterling (1) drives the hoop as Gardiner’s Cody Dingwell (3) attempts to block the shot during the Capital City Hoop Classic on Thursday at the Augusta Civic Center. Anna Chadwick/Morning Sentinel

Don’t believe him? Take it from Sterling himself.

“Nolan Leso and Charles Stevens’ rebounding really got us back out there,” Sterling said. “We got second-chance points when we really needed them.

“We’re just rolling right now, we’re on fire. I just hope we can keep going and going.”

Gardiner is 1-5, but has been competitive in its losses. The Tigers’ largest margin of defeat before Thursday was by 14 points. Gardiner trailed 34-18 in the third before it clawed to within 37-26, when Mt. Blue and Sterling took over.

Zach Kristan led Gardiner with 10 points.

“Based on our statistics, I think they had as many offensive rebounds as we had rebounds for the entire game,” Gardiner coach Aaron Toman said. “That’s a hard recipe for success.

“I give credit to my guys; they’re a hardworking bunch and a joy to coach. In four out of our six games this season, we’ve had a chance to win in the fourth quarter. We’re just trying to learn how to win and close out games.”

Related Headlines

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.