The Nokomis basketball bloodlines run deep in the Flagg family

The Nokomis basketball bloodlines run deep in the Flagg family

NEWPORT — Kelly Flagg scored 1,257 points while playing at Nokomis Regional High School. She played Division I college basketball at the University of Maine. She was a starter on the Black Bear team that beat Stanford in 1999 for the program’s only victory in the NCAA Tournament.

And yet, for Flagg, those feats all had to be pushed into the background on Saturday when his sons Hunter, Cooper and Ace celebrated in the moments after the basketball team won the Class A North Regional Championship. Nokomis versus Brewer.

“As exciting as it was as a player to reach that kind of level,” Kelly said, “the excitement for me doesn’t compare to how exciting it was to watch the boys cut the nets. “

The victory propelled the Warriors (20-1) into the Class A final, where Nokomis will meet Falmouth (19-2) at 3 p.m. Saturday at Cross Insurance Arena in Portland.

For the Flaggs, this season has seen the progression of an impressive basketball pedigree. Kelly and her husband Ralph both played at Nokomis and then in college, with Ralph playing at Eastern Maine Community College. Their sons followed in their footsteps guiding the Warriors to their first state championship game, with freshmen Cooper and Ace earning Division I offers along the way.

Family ties are nothing new for Nokomis: Penny Stevens Townsend (son Dawson), Jaime Nye Cote (Ethan), Katie Nye Grant (Alex) and Amanda Dorman White (Madden) are all 1995 Nokomis alumni who made Eastern Maine final with sons on current team. Madden White’s father, Jeff, was a 1,000 point scorer. Grady Hartsgrove’s brother, Zach, also hit the 1,000 point mark.

The basketball bloodlines, however, aren’t much richer than with the Flaggs.

“It’s been a part of my life for as long as I can remember,” said Hunter, a senior. “From watching mom play in a men’s league at the Newport Rec Center when I was little, like 3 or 4, to now trying to win a state championship, that’s been such a big part of my life.”

“It’s always been about basketball for us,” Cooper added. “Mom and dad were always there for us, whatever we wanted to do.”

Kelly Bowman Flagg, left, sits with her three sons, from left, Ace, Hunter and Cooper, outside the gymnasium at Nokomis Regional High School in Newport on Friday. Michael G. Seamans / Morning Watchman

Kelly, who played for the Warriors and Black Bears as Kelly Bowman, said she enjoyed watching Flagg’s next generation this season.

“It was really a bit surreal,” Kelly said. “It was the most enjoyable moment of all my basketball experiences in my life, even as a player, just to be able to watch them there and the love they have for each other. .”

Kelly knows what it’s like to carry the weight of a school’s basketball expectations. As an excellent post player at Nokomis from 1992 to 1995, she led the Warriors against teams that have gone down in history. Teams like Cindy Blodgett’s Lawrence Bulldogs, Amy Vachon’s Cony Rams and Katie Clark’s Bangor Rams.

Kelly played AAU with Clark and Vachon and befriended them. On the field during the high school season, however, things changed between the whistles.

“Friendships, as soon as the ball goes up for the jump, kind of go out the window for the next 32 minutes,” said Kelly, whose father, Daniel Bowman, was also a talented athlete. “I would never want anyone to get hurt, but let’s just say my intensity level was amped up.”

In 1995, Nokomis defeated Clark and Bangor in the regional semi-finals, but lost to Vachon and Cony in the final. When asked if she considered Kelly a rival, Vachon didn’t hesitate.

“One hundred percent,” said Vachon, now the decorated head coach of the University of Maine women’s basketball team. “She was very fiery, very intense. Really versatile. She was a post player in high school and in college she became a guard. She was really intense and a very good player.

University of Maine women’s basketball player Kelly Bowman completes a run to the basket during a game November 20, 1998 in Portland. Portland Press Herald file photo

Kelly was undersized at 5-foot-10 for a college forward, but began the process of turning into a shooting guard. This transition was facilitated by the presence of Blodgett, Clark and Vachon as teammates rather than adversaries.

“A lot of us talked (during AAU) about ‘Oh, wouldn’t it be cool if we went to Maine and played together?'” Kelly said. “As things developed and Coach (Joanne) Palombo (McCallie) started signing a lot of players from Maine, it became a bit like, ‘Oh, this could really happen.’ And it was an exciting time to want to go to Maine.

A few years after graduating in 1999, Kelly shifted her focus to parenthood, starting with Hunter in 2004, and she soon began guiding her sons into the sport she loved.

“As soon as she could, she had a bullet in our hands,” Ace said.

“I have pictures of the kids with basketball-shaped teethers,” Kelly added. “That’s exactly what my family has always done. … It’s just in our blood and what we do.

Hunter and Ace took their time getting into the sport. Cooper, Kelly said, was different.

“All of them have found their own way to love the game,” she said. “But I will say about Cooper, I think he’s definitely come out of the womb ready to go. I have pictures of him on one of those Little Tikes hoops soaking when he was maybe be 18 months.

As their passion grew, Kelly acted as a mentor, coaching her sons, along with Ralph, and teaching them post moves, including the “Kevin McHale up and under.”

Kelly Bowman Flagg, arms on her knees, is reflected in a window Friday as she sat outside the gymnasium at Nokomis Regional High School in Newport. She sits with her three sons, Ace, Hunter and Cooper. Michael G. Seamans / Morning Watchman

She also acted as a peacemaker, breaking up feuds in and around the house.

“That’s all that’s going on,” Kelly said. “They compete for everything. They fight over food, they fight over the front seat of the car. Everything is competition. »

Competitions have never been tougher than through the hoop down the aisle.

“We’ve played so many 1-on-1 away games,” Cooper said. “We had a ton of fights about basketball. … Every summer, every day, it was spending hours and hours in the driveway, shooting, playing PIG against each other.

Growing up, however, the brothers’ eyes drifted to this season, when they knew they would have their first chance to play as teammates. With a chance to play for a state title, the season did not disappoint.

“It was just such a great opportunity,” Hunter said. “I was really excited for that, even when I was younger. … To be able to play with them, and also play at a high level, has really been such a great experience.

“It was a pleasure,” added Cooper. “It’s really fun to be able to be together every day after school and then be able to come home and talk about what happened in training.”

There has been unprecedented attention and hype surrounding the family, but Ace said there was never any jealousy or frustration with anyone’s roles.

“I think we’re doing a good job sharing the spotlight,” he said. “None of us really care.”

It’s the feeling Kelly says she also feels watching another generation of basketball unfold.

“It’s been really special for our family,” she said. “Watching the closeness and the bond that really solidified them as brothers has been cool.”

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