MT. ARARAT HIGH SCHOOL junior Shy Ulrickson (left) makes a move on Brewer’s Jared St. Thomas during Tuesday’s Eastern A preliminary contest. The Eagles were eliminated from the playoffs, falling 60-48 in Brewer.

MT. ARARAT HIGH SCHOOL junior Shy Ulrickson (left) makes a move on Brewer’s Jared St. Thomas during Tuesday’s Eastern A preliminary contest. The Eagles were eliminated from the playoffs, falling 60-48 in Brewer.

BREWER

Throughout the season, close games that came down to the final buzzer were the norm for the Mt. Ararat High School boys basketball team.

On Tuesday in an Eastern Maine Class A preliminary game against No. 8 Brewer, Kevin Carter’s drive to the hoop gave the ninth-seeded Eagles a 40- 39 lead early in the fourth quarter, signaling the possibility of another run to the buzzer.

MT. ARARAT’S Alex LaFountain, left, battles for position with Brewer’s Ryan Mills (32) during an Eastern Maine Class A boys high school basketball prelim in Brewer on Tuesday.

MT. ARARAT’S Alex LaFountain, left, battles for position with Brewer’s Ryan Mills (32) during an Eastern Maine Class A boys high school basketball prelim in Brewer on Tuesday.

But, Brewer had other ideas, answering Mt. Ararat’s charge with a key 9-0 run en route to a 60-48 victory, sending the 8-11 Witches to the Augusta Civic Center on Saturday for a quarterfinal game against top-seeded Edward Little on Saturday. Meanwhile, the Eagles finished 7-12 in a season filled with close calls and narrow setbacks.

“It is hard coming in as a new coach with different expectations for the veterans, and when you try to massage that into what you do, you’re asking a lot of them,” said Mt. Ararat first-year coach Steve Cox. “I am proud of the way they would attempt anything that I asked of them, and they did it all season with class.”

Brewer rode the hot shooting and rebounding of Matt Pushard, who finished with 26 points, 12 rebounds and three assists. Logan Rogerson added 12 points, while Jared St. Thomas had eight points, five rebounds and three assists. Pushard was especially deadly on the offensive boards, pulling down seven to give Brewer chances at second chance points.

“We knew second-chance points were going to be key, and tonight that was for us,” said Pushard. “This is a great win, and the first time we are heading to Augusta in seven years.”

“They isolated Pushard, and that kind of killed us along with the offensive boards,” said Mt. Ararat senior guard Mike Crawford, who had 12 points, three steals and three assists in the loss.

Tough second

When Mt. Ararat downed Brewer in Topsham on Dec. 12, 65-36, the Eagles jumped out early and pulled away steadily.

On Tuesday, the Witches hung in early thanks to Pushard, who had eight first-quarter points. On the other side, Mt. Ararat received five each from Crawford and Shy Ulrickson as the Eagles grabbed a 14-11 lead after a quarter.

The game turned Brewer’s way in the second. Pushard tacked on nine more points, and the Witches held the Eagles without a point for a fourminute stretch for an 18-14 lead. Mt. Ararat allowed seven offensive rebounds in the first half, and Pushard thought that he finished the half when his 3-pointer swished through at the buzzer for a 32-23 lead. However, Pushard received a technical foul for taunting, and Crawford sank 1-of-2 at the line to get the Eagles within eight at the half.

Still, Pushard had 17 points and seven rebounds through 16 minutes.

“ The offensive boards just gave them so many opportunities, and percentage wise they are going to convert,” said Cox, who received 12 points in the first half from Ulrickson and eight from Crawford.

The Eagles adjusted defensively in the third quarter, with Alex LaFountain guarding Pushard inside. And, Mt. Ararat began its comeback, with Ulrickson swishing a trey and senior Mason Griffin hitting from outside to get the Eagles to 39- 38 after three.

“It is a game of surges, and you try to ride your surge as long as you can and hold theirs off as quickly as possible,” said Cox.

Carter, who picked up six points, five rebounds and three assists in his final game for Mt. Ararat, found a lane to open the fourth and beat the Brewer defense to the hoop for a 40-39 lead.

St. Thomas hit a pair of free throws to put the Witches in the lead for good, and after Pushard sank two at the line, Jamison Rhoads- Doyle hit an open 3- pointer from the corner for his only field goal to give Brewer a 46-40 lead. St. Thomas completed the nine- point turnaround with a drive to the basket as the capacity crowd rose to its feet.

“That run hurt us after we worked so hard to come back,” said Crawford. “They took the momentum with their crowd, and it was tough to turn things around from there.”

“We adjusted very well at halftime,” said Cox, whose team began fouling to send Brewer to the line. However, the Witches made 14-of-16 at the line to close out the 60-48 win. “Toward the end of the game we just didn’t get the bounces that we normally get, and once they turned it into a free- throw shooting contest, we were not close enough to make a run.”

Ulrickson led Mt. Ararat with 17 points. The Eagles were 17-of-45 from the field (37 percent) and made 8-of- 9 from the charity stripe, all coming in the first half. Griffin had a team- high nine rebounds.

Brewer shot 41 percent ( 16- of- 39) from the floor and made 22- of- 28 at the foul line. Rhoads- Doyle chipped in 10 points, including a 6-for-6 performance at the free- throw line in the fourth quarter.

No. 8 Brewer 60, No. 9 Mt. Ararat 48

At Brewer

Mt. Ararat — 14 10 14 10 48
Brewer 11 21 7 21 60

Mt. Ararat — Mike Crawford 3-5-12, Alex LaFountain 1-0-2, Shy Ulrickson 7-1-17, Kevin Carter 2-2-6, Mason Griffin 1-0-3, Avery Desjardins 2-0-5, Cam Cox 0-0-0, Harper Moutal 1-0-3. Totals — 17-8-48. Brewer — Jared St. Thomas 1-6-8, Carter Smith 1-2-4, Logan Rogerson 5-0-12, Matt Pushard 8-7-26, Mike Grimble 0-0-0, Ryan Mills 0-0-0, Jamison Rhoads-Doyle 1-7-10, Jon Wood 0-0-0. Totals — 16-22-60. 3-point field goals — (MtA) Ulrickson 2, Crawford, Griffin, Desjardins, Moutal; (B) Pushard 3, Rogerson 2, Rhoads-Doyle. Records — Brewer 8-11, Mt. Ararat 7-12. Notes — Brewer meets top-seeded Edward Little in the Eastern A quarterfinals at the Augusta Civic Center on Saturday at 9:30 p.m.; Mt. Ararat’s season is completed.


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