Brewer senior finally finds confidence, shooting touch

Jared Austin of Brewer has established self-confidence and his shooting touch during his senior season for the Witches.

Jared Austin of Brewer has established self-confidence and his shooting touch during his senior season for the Witches.

Jared Austin’s high school basketball career admittedly has been a
battle with confidence.

But the 6-foot-4-inch senior couldn’t have looked more self-assured
than he did during his most recent game when Brewer High School scored
a 48-27 victory over cross-river rival Bangor.

Making just his second varsity start, Austin totaled a game-high 14
points on 7-of-7 shooting from the field and grabbed five rebounds to
help coach Ben Goodwin’s Witches overcome their overall height
disadvantage against the Rams.

“He’s been working his way into the lineup,” said Goodwin, whose team
improved to 6-7 and moved up a spot to sixth place in Class
A North with the victory. “He gives a little more presence against the
post.”

What makes Austin’s performance all the more impressive is his limited
high school basketball experience. He didn’t play as a freshman at
Brewer then, after seeing limited duty on the junior varsity as a
sophomore, sat out again last winter.

“I’ve always really liked basketball, it’s just that the confidence
hasn’t always been there,” he said.

But knowing this year was his last chance to play high school
basketball, Austin decided to give it one more try.

“My junior year my self-confidence was really low,” he said. “But my
senior year I thought I’d give it a shot because I thought the team
could use some big guys.”

Austin saw little game action early in the season as he regained his
familiarity with the sport and became accustomed to the pace of the
game and his role at the varsity level.

Gradually Austin earned more minutes coming off the Brewer bench
before getting his first start in the Witches’ recent 57-55 victory
over Gardiner, the No. 4 team in Class A North.

“It didn’t really matter to me, starting or coming off the bench,” he
said. “I just wanted to help the team but obviously I was excited.
It’s nice to get to play.”

Then while teaming with frontcourt mates Tyler Hafford and Alex
Maxsimic against Bangor, Austin showed off his shooting touch from as
far away as 15 feet from the basket.

He scored six points as Brewer moved out to a 23-16 halftime lead,
then capped off his day with six fourth-quarter points as the Witches
pulled away and avenged a 55-44 loss at Bangor on Jan. 5.

“We preach team all the time here,” said Goodwin. “We don’t need
somebody to go out and score 25 or 30 points. We need the team to do
it together and Jared’s one of those guys who believes in that and
does what he needs to do.

“I’m sure it wouldn’t matter if he had 20 or five as long as we won.”

While Austin acknowledges that his primary role for the Witches is as
a defensive presence, each shot he makes also elevates his confidence
level.

“It’s getting up there,” Austin said. “Every game like that helps.”

A determined coach
Perhaps no one was happier to be at last Saturday’s Bangor-Brewer boys
basketball game than Brewer assistant coach Phil Pushard.

Pushard, a retired state trooper, underwent knee replacement surgery
two days earlier at Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor and
didn’t expect to be able to attend the rivalry game barely 48 hours
later.

Pushard gained additional motivation when the team visited him at
the hospital on Friday evening, but one obstacle remained.

He had to prove to his doctors that he was sufficiently recovered and
had enough mobility get around outside the hospital, which he pulled
off late Saturday morning.

He was discharged at 12:15 p.m., and aided by the use of a walker he
arrived at the Brewer High School gymnasium in time for the 3 p.m.
tipoff.

Greenville boys rise to the top
The top of the Class D North boys basketball standings in both
northern and southern Maine have taken on a different look — and it’s
due to a northern team that plays in the south.

When a late 3-pointer by junior guard Nick Foley lifted Greenville to
a 49-47 victory over Machias on Saturday evening, the Lakers ascended
to first place in Class D South while Machias suffered its first loss
and fell to second place in Class D North.

Coach Bill Foley’s Greenville club avenged an opening-night 67-45 loss
at Machias on Dec. 10, and with a 44-28 win over Penquis Valley of
Milo on Monday night stretched its winning streak to 11 games and
improved to 11-1.

The Lakers, who also got 16 points from junior forward Connor DiAngelo
and 12 points and 10 rebounds from junior center Devin Boone against
Machias, used that victory and a 46-36 win at Class C Piscataquis of
Guilford one night earlier to surge ahead of defending state champion
Valley of Bingham into the top spot in the South.

Greenville already owns a 62-51 victory over Valley at Bingham on Jan.
17 and is scheduled to host the Cavaliers in the rematch on Feb. 2.

Machias fell to second place in Class D North behind Southern
Aroostook of Dyer Brook despite rebounding from the Greenville loss
with an 85-35 victory over Shead of Eastport on Monday night.

Coach Jim Getchell’s Bulldogs are 14-1.

Southern Aroostook of Dyer Brook is now the lone undefeated team remaining in Class D statewide. Coach Bill McAvoy’s Warriors improved their record to
12-0 with a 69-46 victory at Woodland on Monday night.

Ernie Clark

About Ernie Clark

I'm a veteran sportswriter who has worked with the Bangor Daily News for more than a decade. A four-time Maine Sportswriter of the Year as selected by the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association, my coverage areas range from high school sports to mixed martial arts.