Friday, April 25, 2014
AUGUSTA — Two years ago, Serge Nyirikamba was a long-range gunner for the Waynflete boys’ basketball team.
His transformation into a premier post player couldn’t have been more evident Monday.
The 6-foot-3 senior pirouetted around and muscled through the Monmouth defense to key a 66-51 victory in a Western Class C quarterfinal at the Augusta Civic Center.
Nyirikamba finished with 26 points and 15 rebounds to push the Flyers (16-2) past the Mustangs (12-8) for a second straight year.
“I was working on my post game, my driving game and the little floater,” said Nyirikamba, who displayed all those moves while scoring all his points in the first three quarters.
Waynflete, the third seed, led just 31-27 at halftime after routing Monmouth in this round a year ago. The third quarter contained a steady diet of Nyirikamba. He scored 11 points as the Flyers built a 50-40 lead.
In the fourth quarter, he picked up his fourth foul and was forced to the bench for a few minutes.
His team didn’t miss a beat, actually increasing the lead as senior forward Henry Cleaves came to life with nine of his 13 points.
Waynflete closed the game on an 11-3 run, finally finding its rhythm.
“When most teams press us, I’m usually the guy left under the basket. So I get the cleanups,” Cleaves said.
“We came out slow, and we didn’t do what we wanted do. Defensively, we didn’t box out, we didn’t communicate well. We had a good 6-minute span there at the end of the third and the beginning of the fourth. I can’t say it was a disappointing performance because we got the W, but we can play much, much better.”
Marcques Houston matched up with Nyirikamba and finished with 17 points for Monmouth. Brett Wilson added 12 points on four 3-pointers.
Waynflete lost in the regional final to Boothbay last year. But Hall-Dale took out the Seahawks on Monday and will face Waynflete in the semifinals Thursday night.
Waynflete Coach Rich Henry said Nyirikamba is a terrific first option, but his team will need more variety in its offense.
“We asked him to be ready to see the double-team because we expected that. And Monmouth was a little slower doubling him, so he was able to go one-on-one, and we’ll take that matchup,” Henry said.
“We need to have more mental focus. I think we kind of walked through that first half a little bit. Once we get Serge the ball, we do OK. But we need more than that to advance in the tournament.”
Mark Emmert can be contacted at 791-6424 or at: