Hooper on fire again, Brewster at 20-0

WOLFEBORO, N.H. -- Maybe it's the shoes. Or maybe it's Max Hooper's breakfast cereal.

"I don’t know what he’s eating, if it’s the Wheaties," cracked his Brewster Academy teammate Naadir Tharpe. "I don’t know what it is, but we’re gonna make sure we keep giving my man Max Hooper the ball. That’s all that matters."

And justifiably so. One night after nailing six 3-pointers in a 99-36 win over Philips Exeter, and a week after sinking six in a 99-63 win over upstart Vermont Academy, the post-graduate shooting guard was at it again Saturday afternoon at the Smith Center. The Irvine, Calif. native was 4 of 6 from long range, part of a 14-point effort, to kick-start the Bobcats as they blew the doors open in the second half en route to a 108-68 win over the Connecticut-based South Kent.

In all, Hooper's contribution was part of a 13-of-29 night from three-point range for the Bobcats. The Harvard commit was deferential, though, about his hot streak.

"That's because of my teammates," Hooper said. "I've been playing with these guys for the last six months, and we've developed a chemistry between the guards, especially Eli Carter and Naadir Tharpe. Knowing where I'm at on the wing, spotting up in transition, coming off down screens, stuff like that, in practice and open gym every day, you just get used to it.

"And then, I'm just ready to knock down my shots. I do the preparation, put in my work every day, 500 makes every day. So, that's just what helps me knock down those shots in the game."

Said the Kansas-bound Tharpe, who finished with 28 points and 10 assists, "It just opens up the court for everybody once Max starts hitting. He was knocking them down today, so we made sure to keep finding him."

To open the game, Hooper capped a 12-5 run for the Bobcats (20-0) with a three-pointer from the left wing with 13:35 left. Six minutes later, he pushed the lead out to 33-18 with two more shots from the perimeter -- first, a stepback two from the baseline, followed by a three from the right wing.

And while the Cardinal (12-6) never led in this game, they gave Brewster trouble early with a 2-3 zone that at times forced poor shot selection and unforced turnovers. Brewster still shot 44 percent from the field in the first half, and led 40-28 headed into the break, but needed to make some halftime adjustments to break this thing open.

"Mainly, it was just attack the zone," head coach Jason Smith said. "There was a lot of open gaps in the middle of the zone. We had to make sure we got ball reversal, find the shooter. And when Hooper came in the game, he can space the floor and make shots."

The Bobcats opened the second half with a 10-2 run, capped by back-to-back drive-and-kick three-pointers by Tharpe and Carter (17 points, five assists). Over the first seven minutes of the second half, Brewster outscored South Kent 21-6 to take a 61-34 lead.

And with the hot shooting opening up the floor, that gave way for St. John's-bound forward Jakarr Sampson (16 points) to show off his leaping ability with two thunderous alley-oops on the 21-6 run. Both came from the wing from Carter, and both were thunderous one-handed tomahawks.

By now, such is a regular occurrence at Brewster practices, but for Hooper "it never gets old."

"Eli, I think he's gonna shoot a floater, and then all of a sudden it turns into an alley-oop out of nowhere," Hooper laughed.

Six-foot-eight forward Maurice Harkless, another St. John's commit, led the way for South Kent with with 21 points, while Kentucky-bound guard Ge-lawn Guyn added 19 in the loss. For Brewster, junior forward Mitch McGary had a double-double (14 points, 12 rebounds) while Villanova-bound center Markus Kennedy added 10 points.