JANUARY 31, TURNER – Blue Mountain coach Troy Norton made a circle as big as his arms would allow and asked Chandler Briggs if the rim seemed too big sometimes.
“Yes, it is sometimes,” Briggs said.
The second half of Tuesday’s game with Levitt was one of those times. Briggs and Zac Boisson took over from behind the arc and propelled the Cougars to a 69-43 boys’ basketball victory over the Hornets.
Briggs made three three-pointers while Boisson made two touchdowns in the third quarter, helping turn a three-point halftime lead into an 18-point lead.
Briggs also made a pair of 3s during a pivotal stretch in the second quarter, including one that gave the Cougars (10-4) the lead for good. He finished with six triples and 24 points.
“At first, I was on my mind, I guess, and I just let the game come to me,” said Briggs, a senior guard. “And then it all happened.”
Poisson added 14 points and Evans Sterling 13.
Briggs has made 11 three-pointers in the last two games. He hit five and scored 19 points against Cooney in a 68-62 victory on Friday.
“This kid has ice water in his veins,” said Norton. “He’s the perfect shooter. He can go 0-for-8, and he doesn’t think about it. He just thinks about the next shot, and that’s what you want your best shooter to be. And he’s made some huge shots for us all season.”
Levitt’s leading scorer was Brett Coburn (5-10), with 12 points. Sawyer Hathaway and Declan Giraud each scored 3 seconds and scored eight points.
Mt Blue remained second in Class A North, more than one point ahead of Nokomis.
Tuesday’s win showed what makes the Cougars so hard to beat: They have many players who can take over offense and can score in multiple ways.
Although Sterling is Mount Blue’s leading scorer (18 points per game) and Poisson is second (12.4 points per game), Levitt coach Mike Hathaway said the Hornets’ initial defensive focus was making sure Briggs didn’t go.
Worked fine. Briggs did not score in the first quarter, nor did Poisson. But Sterling was scoring and that forced the Levitt defense to turn some of its focus on him.
Sterling scored nine goals in the first period, and Briggs assisted a pair of 3 goals in the second quarter.
“In the first quarter, we were so focused on Briggs because we didn’t want to let him go any further,” said Mike Hathaway. And then when Sterling started hurting us a little bit more, we had to pay more attention to him, and then Briggs started to heat up.
Then we came out in the second half and went into the triangle and two on those two, and Poisson hit two goals in a row.
Two Boasson 3-pointers early in the second half pushed the Mount Blue’s 25-22 halftime lead to 31-24.
Zach Cuban added a basket and then a foul shot to put the Cougars up by 10 points, 34-24, with five minutes left in the fourth.
Sawyer Hathaway scored 3 points and later found Nick Morin’s cut (four points) to get Levitt back to within five points with 3:15 to play.
Briggs scored the next 11 points, including three, and the Cougars began to pull away by finishing the quarter on a 13-0 lead, extending their lead to 47-29 heading into fourth.
“I think we got a little sick. But they’re good. It’s hard to keep a team like that from big hitters,” said Mike Hathaway, later adding, “It’s a tough team to defend. Tough as any. We played, to be honest.”
The Hornets, who are fighting for a spot in the Class B South playoffs, played close to the Cougars and even held the lead for most of the first half.
Sterling scored the first four points of the game on a layup and then dunked after the steal. Mount Blue’s lead was up to 6-2 before Levitt got a spark from Giroud, who came off the bench and hit a layup 3 from one side of the field and jumped mid-range from the other to give the Hornets a 7-6 lead.
Hathaway made it 10-7 when he squared about 4 feet in front of the half-court line and drained a 3. A Coburn run back in the closing seconds of the first quarter gave Levitt a 12-7 lead.
Mike Hathaway said of Coburn: “He’s good on the inside. He gets to the edge really well, bounces really well”.
Use Mt. The Blue scored two 7-2 runs in the second quarter to regain the lead and eventually take control of the game.
The first half tied the game at 18-18, and the second put the Cougars ahead 25-20.
Briggs hit 3 in every inning, including one that made it 21-18, giving Mt. Blue standout forever.
Sawyer Popper scored (six points) for Levitt at the end of the half to cut the Mount Blue’s lead to 25-22 at halftime.
The Cougars play again on Wednesday, traveling to face Skowhegan (8-6), which they beat 67-45 earlier this season.
The Hornets next game at MCI (3-12) is on Thursday.