AUGUSTA — After 10 days without a game or scrimmage, Waynflete’s boys’ basketball team was worried about rust. By halftime, all was running smoothly. That was particularly true of sixth-man Mohammed Suja’s jump shot beyond the 3-point stripe.
Suja hit seven 3-pointers among his 27 points to lift Waynflete to a 78-47 victory over Monmouth Academy in a Western Class C quarterfinal Monday at the Augusta Civic Center.
The second-seeded Flyers (17-1) will face No. 3 Dirigo (18-1) in a semifinal at 7 p.m. Thursday at the Civic Center.
Billy Cummings led the 10th-seeded Mustangs (7-13) with 17 points. Kasey Smith added 10. Marcques Houston had nine points and 10 rebounds.
The Flyers got off to a cold start before their pressure defense and Jack Cutler’s finishing produced an 8-0 lead – all the scoring by Cutler.
“(Cutler’s points) meant a lot to us because no one else was scoring,” said Serge Nyirkumba, who had 15 of his 18 points in the second half.
After a Monmouth timeout, Cummings hit a 3, but Max Belleau (17 points) answered and Waynflete led 10-3 after one.
“We’ve had about 10 days out of a pure competitive situation, no scrimmages, and it showed,”
Waynflete Coach Rich Henry said. “Plus, they were playing tough defense, so it took us a while to get on track. We wanted to shake the rust off and play at our pace.”
The rust started to come off in the second quarter. Suja found his rhythm, scoring 16 points to push the Flyers to a 33-17 halftime lead.
“We moved the ball,” Suja said. “I got a lot of open shots.”
“Mohammed’s a streaky shooter,” Henry said. “When his 3s are going, everyone loves getting him the ball.”
Waynflete was hindered by first-half fouls. Though Monmouth hit only 2 of 8 free throws, tempo was a concern.
“Those fouls slowed the game down and we don’t want it to slow down,” Henry said. “We like to get out and run, and take advantage of our athleticism and our length. We were able to do that in the second half.”
Belleau and Cutler created havoc up high, forcing turnovers that led to more outside scoring from Suja and inside scoring from the 6-foot-3 Nyirkumba. Paul Runyambo started dominating the boards.
Drew McFarren led the Mustangs’ spirited fight in the third quarter. He scored six of his eight points in the quarter.
“With a big lead, you know they’re going to make their runs,” Suja said. “You just have to try to stay focused.”
Suja and Nyirkumba combined for 20 of Waynflete’s 27 points in the fourth quarter.
“This feels great,” Nyirkumba said, “but we know we have to come out and work just as hard next game.”