Quick start lifts Bulldogs
AUGUSTA -- It was business as usual for the Lawrence High boys basketball team Saturday in the opening round of the Eastern Maine Class A tournament.
Xavier Lewis returned to the lineup after missing five games due to illness, Spencer Carey took the ball to the basket and everyone played defense. It added up a 52-41 victory for the No. 3 Bulldogs over No. 6 Brunswick.
Lawrence (15-4) will play No. 2 Edward Little in the semifinal round Wednesday at the Augusta Civic Center while Brunswick finishes at 10-9.
The Bulldogs came out flying as they forced eight Brunswick turnovers and took a 14-1 lead. Mason Travers scored five quick points and blocked a shot while Carey contributed an assists, a steal and four of his team-high 15 points in the quarter.
"We felt we were prepared for what they were going to give us," Brunswick coach Todd Hanson said. "But we were just a little overwhelmed at the start with their athleticism and it´s hard to prepare for something like that."
Lewis, who missed the last five games of the regular season, came off the bench early in the quarter and promptly drained a 3-pointer from the left side. The 6-foot junior finished with 13 points and a couple of assists.
"He´s a basketball player," Carey said of Lewis. "He´s a warrior and any time his back´s up against the wall he´ll respond."
The Dragons never fully recovered from their slow start. They trailed 16-5 at the end of the first quarter and 30-16 at the half. They were concerned with stopping Lawrence´s outside shooting, but with the exception of Lewis´ 3, the Bulldogs scored all their baskets in the paint.
"They came out in a zone so we just wanted to make passes to the open man," Carey said. "We were able to find our guys wide open under the basket."
Carey opened the third quarter with four rebounds, two assists and a baseline jumper that put the Bulldogs in front 36-16. The jumper was his only basket of the game outside the paint.
"Spencer Carey goes as well as anybody from the 3-point line to the basket," Hanson said. "We just couldn´t get help over there in time to put a body on him."
The Dragons did make a run at the lead with a 10-2 run spanning the third and fourth quarters. And they did it without one of their leading shooters and defenders, senior Konnor Scarponi, who sprained his ankle in the third quarter and did not return. A three-point play by Brett Lancaster and hoop by Brad Smith cut the lead to 40-30 with plenty of time left.
"You´ve got to give credit to Brunswick," Lawrence coach Mike McGee said. "We had them by 20 with the ball and they made a great comeback. They didn´t give up."
The Bulldogs restored the lead as they did throughout the game, by going to the basket. Carey hit two free throws and Lewis followed with a driving layup to restore the lead to 12 points. Travers added nine points for Lawrence while Nick Noiles, Matt Saunders and Aaron Lafrance all made key defensive contributions. Blake Gordon led the Dragons with 13 points.
"We had beaten them in double digits both games," McGee said. "We said the key was getting out early and making them believe they couldn´t stay with us. I thought our defensive was spectacular in the first quarter."
Gary Hawkins -- 621-5638