MPA Season Preview
The high school basketball season is up and running in the state of Maine with the hunt for the Golden Balls officially underway in all four classes. Here’s a look at the contenders:
Hampden Academy – They appear to be the most popular pick to come out of the east this year due to their versatile weapons. Christian McCue is already putting up big numbers in the backcourt while the frontcourt will be headlined by the two-headed monster of Logan Priorier and Fred Knight. Zach Gilpin could also be ready for a breakout year.
Bangor – Patrick Stewart is essentially the sole returning contributor from last year’s state championship team. While the Rams will undoubtedly need others to step up, Stewart has the size and talent to emerge into one of the state’s more dangerous frontcourt prospects. If Nick Sherwood can lead the backcourt, Bangor will continue to be a threat.
Mount Blue – They are legitimate contenders to take a title this year. Cam Sennick is the team’s star but he’s far from a one man show as Nick Hilton put up 24 points and 13 rebounds in the season opener, while Eric Berry added 15 points and 6 assists.
Edward Little – Junior swingman Quinn Leary leads an Edward Little team that should be very dangerous in the east this year, and if the first game of the season was any indication then Omar Hajj-Hersi is ready to play a big supporting role as well.
Brunswick – What the team lacks in star power they compensate for with depth and experience. Four starters return from last year’s 9-9 team including senior point guard Mitchell Black who is expected to play a leadership role.
Bonny Eagle – Super sophomore Dustin Cole returns as the primary weapon for a Bonny Eagle team that advanced to the Western A finals. Cole could very well be the state’s top scorer in just his second year, but he won’t be a one man show as Cole Libby is a senior and returning starter who is also expected to make major contributions.
Deering – They have threats inside and out and project as one of the state’s most dangerous teams. Jon Amabile is a two time all state performer and another of the state’s best seniors. He’ll provide offensive firepower in the backcourt while two juniors, 6’6” Labson Abwoch and 6’4” Thiwat Thiwat, give them equally strong talent in the frontcourt.
Portland – Despite losing 60% of last year’s starting line-up, Portland still projects capable of making a run this year. Second team all-state performer Mike Herrick returns from injury to provide scoring from the perimeter while sophomore center Peter Donato averaged double figures last year in his first high school season.
Cheverus – Cheverus doesn’t rebuild, they reload, and that is certainly the case this year. Despite losing four starters from a team that advanced to last year’s state championship game, Cheverus will again be a top contender. Louis Distasio is one of the state’s top seniors while Cam Olson, Shawn Grover, and James Kapothanasis provide additional firepower in the senior class.
South Portland – The Red Riots have one of the state’s top point guards in Tanner Hyland, who is capable of making plays for himself and his teammates. The junior will look to run the show again this year with senior forward Logan Gaddar and junior swingman Ben Burkey expected to be among his favorite passing targets.
Sanford – Another veteran laden squad that looks to be much improved from a season ago. Junior guard Ryan Camire is the leading returning scorer while classmate Alex Shain could be in store for a breakout season as his running mate in the backcourt.
Thornton Academy – A year after going 15-4 last season, TA is young but dangerous. Justin Pollard and Adam Ek form one of the state’s better backcourt tandems while Dakota Tarbox will need to anchor an interior that is the big question mark heading into the season.
Windham – Losing Nolan Allen to injury is a crushing blow to Windham, and if they’re capable of overcoming it they’ll need players to step up across the floor. Junior twins, Joe and Shawn Francoeur, are two of their better weapons heading into the season.
Marshwood – They return a veteran laden team and so Marshwood is a team that could sneak up on people this year. Senior big man Jack Verrill will thrive and senior guard Matt Crosby anchors the backcourt after averaging 13 points per game a season ago.
Medomak Valley – There are big expectations this year in Medomak Valley as the team returns several pieces from last year’s 14-5 group. Most notable is junior center John Murray, who established himself as a premier interior threat while putting up big numbers as a sophomore.
Camden Hills – They are in rebuilding mode after losing the vast majority of their firepower from last year’s state championship team. Point guard Adam Carlsen will have to prove capable of thriving in an increased role if they are to have success.
Gardiner – When you win your season opener by 80 points, you add fuel to the fire that was the pre-season hype. That’s exactly what Gardiner did and they’re hoping for continued success with the likes of Jake Palmer and Aaron toman poised for big seasons.
Nokomis – There will be some occasional bumps in the road early as they learn to play without Chris Braley but there is talent inside and out on this team with the likes of Ethan Pearl, Will Cartwright, and Andrew Carwright.
Cape Elizabeth – They return only one player from the group that advanced to last year’s state final. Junior swingman Henry Babcock will need some help and senior guard Matt Pierce is one of several players who will need to step up.
Falmouth – Senior center Jack Coolen should be a double-double threat every time he takes the court this year while Matt Packard provides experience and a dependable hand to run the team at the point. Their strength will be on the interior as their size should allow them to return to the state tournament.
York – They return their entire rotation from a team that advanced to the western semi-finals a year ago, including Liam Langaas, who is coming off a breakout summer, and 6’7” big man Aaron Todd, who was named first team all-state last year after averaging 15 points and 12 rebounds per game.
Greely – With size and talent up front, and experience in the backcourt, Greely has a recipe to make a run this year. After putting up solid numbers during his freshman season, sophomore big man Michael McDevitt could be on his way to a breakout season and capable of establishing himself as a star.
Poland – Jake Littlefield returns at the helm of the program after a breakout junior year which saw him average 18 points and 10 rebounds per game. His running mate will be senior guard Logan Nichols as the duo will look to have Poland among the contenders in the west.
Yarmouth – One of the state’s most potent offensive weapons, Josh Britten, returns for his senior season and that means Yarmouth will be dangerous at minimum. Fellow seniors, Chris Knaub and Sam Torres, lead the supporting cast.
Lee Academy – The defending state champions are again the favorites in the east. Transfer D.J. Johnson already has 1000+ points to his name while there will be another strong international flavor to this year’s team.
Boothbay Region – They have a long tradition of success and so despite being fairly young and inexperienced, they’re still likely to be dangerous. Junior point guard Anthony DiMauro is the signature piece.
Waynflete – They return a decent portion of the rotation from last season, after going 12-6 a year ago. They lack star power though as roles will need to be defined if they’re to become a legit contender.
Dirigo – Another year brings another dangerous team at Dirigo as Cody St. Germain and Caleb Turner stood out in an opening win that figures to be the first of many.
Central Aroostook – The class D defending state champions could be poised to repeat with the return of big man Mike McClung to headline a veteran laden line-up.
Jonesport-Beals – Junior forward Garet Beal is one of the state’s top talents and he’ll look to lead Jonesport-Beals over Central Aroostook in this year’s rematch.
Washburn – They’re undersized but explosive in the backcourt. Mitch Worcester can put points on the board in bunches and Jordan McLaughlin is no slouch himself.
Seacoast Christian – Although four starters are back from a team that played .500 ball last year, they lack a player who averaged in double figures. Look for balance to again be their trademark.