Mt. Ararat’s Ty Henke (10) looks to dribble past Brunswick’s Evan Kilfoil (13) during first-quarter KVAC action at Brunswick on Friday. (Bob Conn / The Times Record)

BRUNSWICK — It’s always a tight contest when “Battle of the Bridge” rivals Brunswick and Mt. Ararat high schools compete.

On Friday, the two boys basketball teams played to a deadlock after one quarter of play, then again at the half. But the Dragon defense shut down the Eagles in the second half and the home team pulled away for 68-56 Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference win.

Brunswick senior Evan Kilfoil led all scorers with 33 points while Noah Goddard added 17 as the Dragons improved to 2-1 on the young season. Three Eagles scored in double digits — led by Caleb Manuel’s 14 — as they fell to 1-2.

“I thought (Mt. Ararat) played really well. After that first quarter we knew it was going to be a dogfight,” Brunswick coach Todd Hanson said. “I thought they did a lot of things really well on offense, but defensively, we picked it up in the second half and responded.”

Goddard, Kilfoil and Mt. Ararat’s Jace Hollenbach all hit 3-point baskets to open the game before Brunswick jumped out to a 11-5 lead midway through the frame. Back-to-back baskets from JD Dionne, the second a steal and a throw down, brought the Eagles within two before Jared Withers tied it with a basket.

At the end of one quarter, each team netted 15 points, led by Kilfoil’s 10.

Mt. Ararat guard Caleb Manuel, left, lowers his shoulder while being guarded by Brunswick’s Thomas Harvey on Friday in Brunswick. (Bob Conn / The Times Record)

“I was ready to play. We knew the stakes at hand, it was a rivalry game, so we just had to go out there and play our best,” said Kilfoil.

Kilfoil and Belanger drained threes around a Lukas Holman basket before the Dragons equaled their largest lead at six, 28-22, with less than five minutes remaining in the half. Holman registered another hoop and a Brunswick turnover followed by a pair of Dionne free throws put the Eagles down by two, 28-26. After a missed shot by Brunswick, Manuel promptly nailed a shot from behind the arc for a one point Eagle lead with 1:39 on the clock.

After Kilfoil put the Dragons ahead again with a basket and two free throws (32-29), Manuel hit another trey to tie it with 30 seconds on the clock. Brunswick’s Thomas Harvey matched the Mt. Ararat guard with a three of his own, but, not to be outdone, Manuel tossed up one more shot from behind the arc and it went in as the buzzer sounded for a 35-35 deadlock.

“It definitely helped us get some momentum at the half,” Manuel, who ran off the court with his teammates at the half pumping his fist, said. “We were pretty pumped at the half.”

“They’re attitude was great at the half. They’re a positive hard-working team.,” Mt. Ararat coach David Dubreuil said. “The locker room was ecstatic. We knew we needed to close out a little more and stop the penetration.”

In the Brunswick locker room, Hanson’s message to his team was simple.

Mt. Ararat’s Jared Withers (20) controls the ball in front of Brunswick defender James Belanger with Eagle JD Dionne, left, and Dragon Ethan Upham (34) looking on. (Bob Conn / The Times Record)

“Defensively I thought we were doing OK, then I looked at the chart at halftime and they were 7-for-9 in the second quarter,” Hanson, who picked up his 300th win on Tuesday night, said. “So our message at halftime was we just have to have a better defensive effort. Our coaches pointed out that we needed to guard before they caught it. It’s almost like we were waiting for them to catch before we started guarding them. We needed to play a step ahead and I think we did that coming out in the second half.”

Kilfoil agreed that coaching staff’s message was simple.

“He told us to play harder and smarter than them. We were using all of our energy on offense and needed to focus more on defense,” the senior added.

The Dragon defense went to work, limiting Mt. Ararat’s scoring opportunities while making the most of theirs on offense.

“We took away shots from them in the second half, we were much more disciplined and had good results,” added Hanson.

Despite two 3-point baskets from Ty Henke, the Dragons held the visitors to just nine third-quarter points to take their largest lead of the night, a 51-44 advantage into the final quarter.

“They picked up their defensive intensity in the third and closed out really well,” Dubreuil said. “We put ourselves in good situations to score, we just didn’t always finish.”

The Eagles continued to work, cutting the deficit to five at 55-50, but Mt. Ararat was unable to creep any closer as the Dragons were 7-for-9 from the free-throw line in the final frame to seal the victory. Kilfoil registered 10 points in the final quarter.

“We forced him to some difficult shots but he made them. Hats off to him, he made shots,” Dubreuil said of Kilfoil.

“I thought he did a really great job getting to the rim. He has a really nice outside game and that opens him up,” Hanson said. “He’s aggressive and gets to the basket. He’s long and gets to the rim and gets fouled.”

Behind Manuel’s 14, that included four treys, Dionne had 11 and Henke registered 10. Hollenbach and Withers each grabbed five rebounds in the loss. The Eagles will hit the court next on Tuesday when they travel to Yarmouth for a 7 p.m. tip off.

Brunswick senior forward James Belanger (30) looks for someone to pass to against Mt. Ararat on Friday in Brunswick. The Dragons prevailed, 68-56.(Bob Conn / The Times Record)

For Brunswick, who also plays on Tuesday when the Dragons host Biddeford (7 p.m.), received six points from James Belanger and five from Harvey. Kilfoil and Ethan Upham each had six boards.

“It’s great to have others score. That’s what I’m all about. If I could have 30 assists instead of the points, I’d take it,” added Kilfoil.

“We have confidence in all of our guys to score. I think they’re doing a better job of understanding of when to take a good shot. We preach give up a good to get a great one,” Hanson said.

 

Brunswick 68, Mt. Ararat 56

At Brunswick

Mt. Ararat — 15 20 9 12 — 56

Brunswick — 15 20 16 17 — 68

Mt. Ararat — Jace Hollenbach 1-2-5, Caleb Manuel 4-2-14, Marcus Steinman 2-0-5, Ty Henke 3-2-10, Jared Withers 2-1-5, JD Dionne 4-3-11, Brandon Emerson 0-0-0, Lukas Holman 3-0-6. Totals — 19-10-56.

Brunswick — Evan Cox 0-0-0, Noah Goddard 5-5-17, Evan Kilfoil 13-5-33, Cam Folsom 0-0-0, Cam Hathaway 0-0-0, James Belanger 2-0-6, Thomas Harvey 2-0-5, Cody Larson 1-1-3, Ethan Upham 2-0-4. Totals — 25-11-68.

3-point baskets — (MtA) Hollenbach, Manuel 4, Steinman, Henke 2, (B) Goddard 2, Kilfoil 2, Belanger 2, Harvey.

Records — Brunswick 2-1, Mt. Ararat 1-2.

Up next for the Eagles — Tuesday at Yarmouth, 7 p.m.

Up next for the Dragons — Tuesday at home against Biddeford, 7 p.m.

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