With four weeks remaining in high school basketball’s regular season, the majority of squads have surpassed the halfway point of their seasons. This past week featured several match-ups which provided clarity as to who the favorites might be when we convene at the Cross Insurance Center and Augusta Civic Center during school vacation week. Other contests muddied the waters a bit and threw into question what we thought we knew. New contenders emerged who can cause some havoc come February. As we reach the midpoint of the season, let’s look back at some of the defining match-ups from the past week and try to put the results into some sort of context.
Let’s start with the ladies first. In class A, Lawrence and Bangor have proved to be the cream of the crop thus far, with Lawrence undefeated handing Bangor their only loss in Fairfield. Oxford Hills jumped into the conversation with their victory over Edward Little this past Tuesday night. The Eddies routed the Vikings on opening night.
Several weeks ago I stated Presque Isle and MDI were on a collision course to meet on Championship Saturday. Nothing has changed my opinion since then. On Saturday, MDI with several players battling sickness rolled past John Bapst, who entered the contest with a 7-1 record. The Trojans’ 59-44 victory was not indicative of their dominance as they jumped out to a 21-2 lead after the first quarter and led by 32 after three. Their junior guard Sierra Tapley might have the best jump shot I have seen this year.
Class C promised to feature parity as the season began, however with the results from this past week, one team is starting to emerge as the favorite. The Houlton girls with their 65-44 victory over Calais Saturday night now sport a 7-1 record on the season. The Shiretowners have reeled off seven straight wins, this coming off a competitive 59-47 opening game loss to class B power Presque Isle. Six foot freshman Colleen Bouchard is a match-up nightmare for teams as she handles the ball, can shoot from the perimeter, and post up down low.
While Washburn remains the favorite to win their fifth consecutive state title, their path to the gold ball may be more difficult than in previous seasons. On Tuesday evening Fort Fairfield traveled to Washburn giving the Beavers all they could handle before leaving with a 47-44 loss, their only defeat of the season.
Moving on to the past week in the boys ranks, how about the parity found in Eastern Maine Class A? Virtually every night features games that go right down to the wire or are decided in overtime. Hampden Academy came into the week having won seven consecutive games following an opening night loss at Brewer. On Tuesday night at Bangor, the Broncos rallied from a thirteen point third quarter deficit to force overtime and pick up a 58-50 overtime victory. Jake Black hit a clutch three late in regulation to force overtime. The Broncos went 8-8 from the foul line in the extra frame. Hampden followed up their performance with a resounding 84-47 triumph over Brewer on Thursday night, avenging their opening night loss.
Edward Little sits on top of Class A with a 10-0 mark, picking up a big 64-55 win on the road at Oxford Hills on Tuesday night. Messalonskee, considered to be a contender at the start of the season with 6’8″ Nick Mayo, seems to have righted the ship winning five in a row since starting the season 3-4.
In Class B, Old Town ran their record to 10-0 with a couple of victories during the week. The KVAC appears to have a little bit more in the way of parity than their Big East counterparts. Morse, competing in Western Maine, knocked off Oceanside and handed Winslow their first loss of the season on Friday night. Gardiner, currently 9-2, picked up a huge 58-55 road win over Oceanside Friday night. The Tigers’ Seth McFarland features a solid all around game, can handle the ball, shoot, is very good defensively, and can take players into the post.
Class C features as deep and talented field as we’ve seen in many years. Defending state champion Houlton had a bit of a hiccup losing two straight early, a home loss to Caribou and a one point loss to Schenck. Saturday night served notice the Shires are once again a team to be reckoned with come tourney time with their 51-45 victory over Calais. Senior Kyle Bouchard led Houlton on the night with 24 points. Calais entered the game on the heels of Wednesday’s 65-57 win at Washington Academy, sweeping the season series over their downeast rivals.
Holding down the number one seed at present is Central. The Red Devils haven’t been to the tournament site since 2006. They picked up three wins over the past week, including Wednesday night’s 57-53 home victory over Hermon, taking revenge from an earlier loss.
Looking for a sleeper come tournament time in Bangor? There are a number of teams that could fit that role but one that comes immediately to mind is George Stevens Academy. The Eagles may have the best backcourt in the division with senior guard Kelsey Allen and freshman Taylor Schildroth. Allen’s quickness to get to the basket is as good as I’ve seen and has deadly shooting range. The Eagles used their athleticism and quickness in jumping out to a 11-0 third quarter run at Orono on Monday night, breaking a 27-27 halftime tie. GSA would go on to roll to a 60-43 victory. GSA also features size in 6’4″ junior Nick Szwez and 6/5″ freshman Max Mattson.
Speaking of Orono, the Riots expect to have the services of their sophomore point guard, Nate DeSisto, back this week after missing the first part of the season to a foot injury. They have been very competitive without him but if he can get healthy it makes Orono a tough out come tourney time.
Finally in Class D, the game of the week took place in Dyer Brook when Washburn came to town to face Southern Aroostook in a battle of undefeated teams. Southern Aroostook hung tough through three quarters but Washburn pulled away for a 64-42 victory. While in past years the Beavers have tried to outscore teams, it’s been the defense that’s carried Washburn thus far. Through their first nine games, only one opponent has broken fifty points against them.
Of course, all that we think we know can often be thrown out once we get to tournament week. As the sun stays out longer it can only mean one thing: Tourney time is not far behind.