BRUNSWICK HIGH SCHOOL guard Mitch Black (10) tries to shoot within a sea of Mt. Ararat Eagles during a boys KVAC basketball game in Topsham on Thursday. Defending for Mt. Ararat are Brandon Johansen (32), Brett Martin (33), Josh Wright and Tyler Charron (20). Black scored a game-high 20 points, including the winning bucket with :09.8 seconds remaining for a 59-57 Dragons victory.

BRUNSWICK HIGH SCHOOL guard Mitch Black (10) tries to shoot within a sea of Mt. Ararat Eagles during a boys KVAC basketball game in Topsham on Thursday. Defending for Mt. Ararat are Brandon Johansen (32), Brett Martin (33), Josh Wright and Tyler Charron (20). Black scored a game-high 20 points, including the winning bucket with :09.8 seconds remaining for a 59-57 Dragons victory.

TOPSHAM

The playoffs for the Brunswick High School boys basketball team began on Thursday.

No, the Dragons were not at the Augusta Civic Center. That will come in a week.

But, Brunswick faced a team with nothing to lose in rival Mt. Ararat in this “Battle of the Bridge” matchup, and the Eagles gave it all they had in a 59-57 Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference loss in front of standing- room only crowd.

This one came down to one final push for Brunswick (11- 7), which entered the game on a two-game slide. The Dragons trailed 56-49 after an offbalance 3- pointer by Mt. Ararat guard DJ Cole.

Brunswick came out of a timeout with a full- court press, causing four Mt. Ararat turnovers and pulling ahead 57-56 with an 8-0 run (six points by Garrett Erb).

Mt. Ararat tied it on a free throw by Cole, setting up a frenzied finish. Brunswick standout Mitch Black went to the basket and managed to float a shot into the twine for a 59-57 lead with :09.8 seconds remaining.

The Eagles had one, well actually two chances in the waning moments. Alex LaPierre launched a 3-pointer that found iron. He didn’t quit, gathering his own rebound and getting a shot off as the buzzer sounded. The ball glanced off the front rim and stayed out, ending the contest.

“ Throw the records out when these two teams meet because it’s a rivalry game and I really tip my hat to Mt. Ararat, which played with so much energy,” said Brunswick coach Todd Hanson, who will next lead his team in the Eastern Maine Class A quarterfinals. “It was on the line for us and our guys came up big and made some shots at the free-throw line. We finally found that sense of urgency and found that gear just in time. I believe this is the start of something special.”

“ I think our kids did an incredible job of putting ourselves into a position to win this game,” said Mt. Ararat (2-16) coach Aaron Watson, who saw seniors Joe Van Note, Josh Wright, Tyler Charron, Cole, Ben Rogers, Brandon Johansen and Brett Martin play their final basketball game in an Eagles uniform.

“The kids gave everything they had and there was a lot of emotion in there (the locker room) after the game. They worked harder than any team in the conference this season.”

What a quarter!

Brunswick came out strong in the opening frame, running out to a 17-5 lead through eight minutes. Black scored seven points, with Trent Anderson adding four and Erb three.

Mt. Ararat, trailing 19- 5 early in the second, went on its best run of the season. With the Eagles’ student section vowing to sit quietly until Mt. Ararat hit 10 points, the building nearly shook apart when LaPierre grabbed an offensive board and scored to get the Eagles to 19-11.

Mt. Ararat kept rolling, finishing off a 22-3 run for a 27- 22 lead with 1:12 remaining in the first half. The Eagles shot 68 percent (11 of 16) in the quarter and led 30-26 at the break. Johansen had six points during the run, while Charron and Cole had five and Martin four.

“ This community could easily have said ‘this team is 2- 15, and we have better things to do, go catch a movie or go out and eat Chinese,’ but boy they came out tonight and were great and very supportive,” said Watson.

“We got some momentum on offense and it picked up on defense,” said Charron, who had eight first- half points including a pair of treys. “When we hit 11 points the crowd really helped us change the momentum and we began hitting everything.”

“They do a great job of getting to the rim, and we were just a half step slow and was all it took for them to penetrate and score a layup or jump outside and hit a shot,” said Hanson. “ They shot lights out and came out on a mission tonight.”

Mt. Ararat’s advantage grew to nine points, 43- 34, with 2: 06 left in the third quarter. Brunswick forward Trent Anderson, who had 12 points, hit two free throws and Black grabbed a pair of offensive boards and converted to bring the Dragons to 43- 38 after 24 minutes.

“We knew Mt. Ararat was going to play as hard as they have all season, and to their credit they played us the hardest of anybody this season,” said Anderson.

In a crazy sequence of events with the Eagles leading 53-49, Black dove to keep a ball inbounds, but the ball was kicked around, with Wright finally gaining control. He fed Cole, who hit a 3- pointer while tumbling out of bounds.

After a timeout, Brunswick got rolling, getting six straight points from Erb to close to 56-55, and Ryan Black coolly stepped to the charity stripe and sank two free throws for a 57-56 Brunswick lead, setting up the final sequence.

Brunswick shot 39 percent (19 of 48) from the floor and made 19 of 27 foul shots. The Dragons forced 19 Mt. Ararat turnovers.

Mitch Black led all scorers with 20 points, pulled down six rebounds, dished out four assists and picked up three steals. Erb chipped in 15 points, five caroms and three steals.

Cole had 13 points, Johansen 12 and Charron 10 to lead the Eagles, who shot 47 percent ( 23 of 48) from the field and five of eight at the line.

LaPierre had seven rebounds, Johansen and Martin five caroms each, and Wright dished out five assists and scored six points.

Brunswick 59, Mt. Ararat 57

At Mt. Ararat High School
Brunswick — 17 9 12 21 — 59
Mt. Ararat — 5 25 13 14 — 57
Brunswick — Blake Gordon 0-2-2, Mitch
Black 6-7-20, Alex Viola 1-1-3, Trent
Anderson 4-4-12, Garrett Erb 6-2-15,
Ryan Black 1-3-5, Jibreel Garrett 0-0-0,
Konnor Scarponi 1-0-2, James Bandouveres 0-0-0, Brad Smith 0-0-0. Totals —
19-19-59.
Mt. Ararat — Josh Wright 2-0-6, Tyler
Charron 4-0-10, Ben Rogers 1-0-2, Brandon Johansen 6-0-12, Brett Martin 2-0-4,
Alex LaPierre 2-0-5, DJ Cole 4-4-13,
Mason Griffin 1-1-3, Tyler Roberts 0-0-0,
Jason Tome 0-0-0, Joe Van Note 1-0-2.
Totals — 23-5-57.
3-pointers — (B) M. Black, Erb; (MA)
Wright 2, Charron 2, LaPierre, Cole.
Records — Brunswick 11-7, Mt. Ararat 2-
16.
Next — The Dragons head to Augusta for
the Eastern Maine Class A quarterfinals
(TBA), while the Eagles’ season is completed.


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