Maine Class B Preview
With some off season movement class B has some new faces in the east and west this year with Camden Hills and Falmouth being the favorites to come out of their respective divisions.
Camden Hills – The defending state champions blasted their way through the eastern division playoffs last year, claiming the regional by an average post-season margin of victory of 27 points. They then defeated western champion Cape Elizabeth 62-49 to claim the state title. With Tyler McFarland, Keegan Pieri, and Graham Safford all sophomores last season, there were hopes of a developing dynasty. Safford’s decision to transfer to Hampden derails that plan but doesn’t destroy it. McFarland and Pieri still form a dynamic duo that should be more than capable of leading this team to the promise land for the next two years. Five seniors also return from last season to give this group the veteran experience necessary for any would-be champion.
Falmouth – They were one of the final four teams standing in class B last year after advancing to the Western Maine finals. Senior sharpshooter Stephano Mancini leads a strong returning contingent featuring six other seniors including potential starters Ryan Rogers, Sam Horning, Jahrel Registe, and John Roberts. With five seniors in the starting line-up Falmouth will be able to rely on the type of veteran experience that few other clubs can match. Sophomore sensation Jack Cooleen is the future of the program and should be able to give them a boost this season as well.
Rockland – A host of contributors are gone from last year’s 13-5 team. Nevertheless, head coach Matt Breen returns a talented core led by sophomore Aiden Hadley and senior Chris Nolan. Hadley is one of the top underclassmen in the state but the young big man will have a big challenge as he will have to hold his own against McFarland if Rockland hopes to contend for a state title. Nolan leads a senior class that also includes Dylan Meklin and Derek Gustin.
Best of the Rest
Nokomis – Our dark horse pick in Class B is Nokomis. We realize they may be a year away but with Carl Parker taking over on the sidelines we expect this group to improve at a rapid pace and exceed expectations. They also have a star sophomore to build around in Chris Braley. The six-foot-three shooting guard has the skills and work ethic to develop into a terrific talent and with someone like Parker there to push him every day we expect him to start turning heads sooner rather than later. They were 0-36 over the last two years in Class A so they will also be playing without the pressure of expectations.
Greely – They went into last year’s western playoffs as the top seeded team only to lose in the semi-finals in a 46-45 heartbreaker. Despite losing a big portion of last year’s rotation, Greely returns two impact players in senior Travor Tierney and junior Sam Johnston. After the way last season ended you can bet Greely will have retribution on their minds this year and with players like Tierney and Johnston on board, head coach Ken Marks and company have the pieces in place to earn it.
Cape Elizabeth – Coming off a western Maine title and a trip to the state championship game, Cape Elizabeth returns a young and inexperienced roster after being hit hard by graduation. They will be especially thin up front but should be able to draw some strength from their backcourt. Seniors Andrew Dickey and Conor Maloney will provide veteran leadership while the younger talent will need to step up quickly if Cape Elizabeth hopes to duplicate their success from a year ago.
Others in Contention
• Leavitt drops from Class A to Class B and with junior Lucas Witham and sophomore Jordan Hersome they may be a year away from contending but more than capable of knocking someone off.
• Ben Johnson gives Maranacook the size in the middle to contend with anyone while Sam Poulin is another talented senior expected to have a big year.
• Coming off a 14-4 regular season Hermon is hoping to have another successful run. Senior Colton Gross and junior Taylor Gross give the team a nice one-two punch to build around.
• Dylan Kingsbury is the headliner for a Presque Island team who advanced all the way to the regional semi-final last year.
• Medomak will rely on the senior duo of Alex Mackenzie and Caleb Giustra to lead them to another run in the post-season.
Class B Superlatives
Best High School Player (Upperclassmen) – Tyler McFarland, Camden Hills: McFarland’s size and strength in the paint is too much for any one defender to match at this level.
Best College Prospect (Upperclassmen) – Keegan Pieri, Camden Hills: We loved what we saw of Pieri this summer. He has the blend of size, length, and perimeter skill that translates to the college level with the basketball I.Q. and work ethic to match.
Best High School Player (Underclassmen) – Chris Braley, Nokomis: We’re not sure that we’re buying into the Keegan Hyland comparisons just yet but in only his sophomore season we would be surprised if he didn’t put up 20 a game.
Best College Prospect (Underclassmen) – Chris Braley, Nokomis: With good size and length, a super clean shooting stroke, and an efficient dribble attack, Braley’s game translates to the next level. Defensively, he is going to have to pick it up a notch but he has the feet to do it.