Boston High School: D.J. Johnson
Here’s a rundown of the games:
Class A Boys
HAMPDEN (20-1) vs. DEERING (16-3)
Regional finals: Both teams were tested in regional finals and won on last second shots. Hampden’s Brian Fickett scored on an inbounds play with two seconds left to give the Broncos a 56-54 win against Mt. Blue. Christian led Hampden with 14 points. Deering beat Bonny Eagle 45-42 in the Western final on Pat Green’s 3-pointer at the buzzer. Green paced the Rams with 17 points.
Matchup: Both teams have good overall size and experience. In addition to McCue, the Broncos are led by 6-foot-7 center Fred Knight, 6-6 forward Logan Poirier and Pat Gilpin. Besides Green, the Rams are led by 6-6 Labson Abwoch, 6-4 Thiwat Thiwat and guard Jon Amabile.
History: Deering last won a state title in 2006 when it beat Hampden, Hampden won in 2005 by beating Deering in the state final.
Class B Boys
GARDINER (19-2) vs. YARMOUTH (17-4)
Regional finals: Both teams upset unbeaten top seeds in the finals. Gardiner beat Mt, Desert Island 70-58 behind 23 points from Jake Palmer and 16 from Aaron Toman. Yarmouth knocked off Falmouth 56-50 behind 26 points from Chris Knaub and 12 from Josh Britten.
Matchup: The teams are similar in size and style of play. Gardiner relies on team defense and rebouding. Toman is the tallest player at 6-4 while Palmer has taken off in the playoffs, scoring 33 and 23 in his last two games. The Tigers have good rebounders in Alonzo Connor and Matt Hall. Yarmouth looks to Britten, its 1,000 point scorer, to carry the offense, but showed others, like Knaub, can contribute. Sam Torres is also a key team member.
History: This is Gardiner’s first-ever trip to the state championship while Yarmouth last played for a state tile (Class C) in 1973 and last won in 1968.
Class C Boys
DIRIGO (20-1) vs. Lee (19-2)
Regional finals: Dirigo cruised to a 69-38 win against third-seeded Boothbay. during the three-game tournament, the Cougars outscored their opponents by a average scored of 76-35. Lee got 25 points from Boubacar Diallo to knock off upset-minded Houlton 58-47.
Matchup: This is a rematch of last year’s state final, won by Lee, 65-55. Because it’s a private school, many of Lee’s players from last year moved on but they do have some valuable additions including Boubacar and D.J. Johnson. The Cougars, led by Cody St. Germain, Ben Holmes and Josh Turbide, return most of their team with a new coach Travis Magnusson in charge. They run and pressure the ball which should make for an entertaining game.
History: Last year’s state final win was the first-ever by Lee. Dirigo has appeared in each of the last three state games without a win. They last won a state championship in 1983.
Class D Boys
FOREST HILLS (18-3) vs. JONESPORT-BEALS (18-2)
Regional finals: Forest Hills pulled off one of the most dramatic comebacks in the history of the Western Maine tournament when it rallied from 19 points down late in the third quarter to defeat top-seeded Hyde 61-60. Junior Evan Worster led the Tigers with 33 points and set a tournament scoring record with 106 points in three games. Jonesport-Beals shot 62 percent from the field in stopping Deer Isle-Stonington 75-62. Garet Beal led the Royals with 20 points while Cole Beal scored 14.
Matchup: Jonesport-Beals has the history and experience on its side, not to mention size with a couple of 6-5 forwards in Garet Beal and Justin Alley. The Tigers have only eight players on their team — the school enrollment is 54 — and start three freshmen.
History: This is Forest Hills’ first-ever appearance in a state final while Jonesport-Beals is gunning for championship No. 10.
Class A Girls
CONY (21-0) vs. MCAULEY (21-0)
Regional finals: Cony got past No. 2 seeded Edward Little 46-41 behind 17 points from Mia Diplock who scored two key baskets down the stretch. McAuley coasted to a 61-43 win against second-seeded Scarborough. Allie Clement led the Lions with 19 points and seven assists while Olivia Smith added 15 and tournament MVP Alexa Coulombe scored eight points, grabbed seven rebounds and had seven steals.
Matchup: The Lions are the defending state champs and enjoy a decided height advantage with Coulombe and Smith, both 6-2, in the lineup. Cony relies on the guard play of Diplock and junior Josie Lee and a host of three-point shooters. Both teams like an uptempo game.
History: Cony is making its sixth appearance in a state final since 2002 while McAuley is making its fifth. The Rams defeated McAuley for the title in 2007.
Class B Girls
PRESQUE ISLE (21-0) vs. LAKE REGION
Regional finals: After losing in the final the past two years to Nokomis, Presque Isle finally broke through and downed the Warriors 52-40 behind 13 points from Chandler Guerette and 11 from Hannah Graham. Lake Region defeated Greely 46-30 behind 22 points from Sydney Hancock and 14 rebounds from Tianna-Jo Cater.
Matchup: Presque Isle averaged 70 points a game during the regular season and would like to push the pace while a slower pace would favor Lake Region.
History: The teams last played for a state championship in 2006 when Presque Isle defeated lake Region 48-36. Lake Region last won a title in 1975.
Class C Girls
HALL-DALE (18-3) vs., CENTRAL (18-3)
Regional finals: Top-seeded Hall-Dale knocked off No. 7 Waynflete behind 16 points and some big plays down the stretch from Carylanne Wolfington. Central beat Stearns 42-41 in overtime behind 21 points from freshman Brianna Skolfield and nine from Sam Brownell.
Matchup: Hall-Dale is the defending state champion but a different team with the graduation of center Taylor Massey. Wolfington is a Miss Basketball finalist and a versatile player who can score inside and out. Central relies on defense and will likely assign Max McHugh to guard Wolfington.
History: Hall-Dale won its first state title since 1986 last season while Central last won in 1982.
Class D Girls
RICHMOND (20-1) vs. WASHBURN (20-1)
Regional finals: Richmond junior Jamie Plummer scored 21 points and grabbed 13 rebounds to led the Bobcats past Rangeley 46-33. Freshman Mackenzie Worcester scored 20 points and Carsyn Koch added 19 as the beavers flew past Hodgdon 68-44.
Matchup: The game is a rematch of last year’s state final won by Washburn 43-40. The Beavers will press, run and try to quicken the pace of the game while the Bobcats would like to slow things down and get the ball inside to Plummer and six-footer Alyssa Pearson.
History: This will be Richmond’s seventh appearance in a state final but the Bobcats have yet to win one. Washburn won its fourth championship last year.
Waynflete junior Martha Veroneau and Forest Hills junior Evan Worster each set tournament records last week at the Augusta Civic Center. Veroneau, a 5-7 guard, scored 47 points against Boothbay to break the single-game Class C tournament record of 45 set by Boothbay’s Katie Sibley. Veroneau also connected on nine 3-pointers to break her own tournament record of seven in a single game.
Worster scored 51 points in a quarterfinal win against A.R. Gould to set a single game Class D record of 45 set by A.R. Gould’s Ian Nono. Worster, a 6-3 forward also set a new tournament scoring record of 106 points, breaking Buckfield’s Paul Bessey’s mark of 96.
Q: How has officiating changed since you began?
A: "To a great extent it hasn’t changed. Statewide. The big change is an increase in ongoing communication throughout the state, on the administrative and training side. Results statewide are a more consistent application of the rules. Years ago, the biggest difference is the offense was favored, which is not the case today. Today every situation matters the same to both teams."
Q: Assess the state of high school officiating today.
A: "We believe high school officiating in Maine is in very good order. Schoolboy and schoolgirl basketball remains a major focal point from November to early March way beyond many other states. With the scrutiny there is out there, it speaks well of the time and effort that is put into basketball officiating in Maine."
Q: Are there enough officials?
A: "Yes, not an overabundance but an ample supply. Annually each of the five boards of officials sponsor an extensive course each fall for prospective officials. It’s followed up by a written exam and a floor test."
Q: How is the training?
A: "Maine has a near 70 year relationship with IAABO, the International Association of Approved Basketball Officials. Videotapes and DVDs are used in addition to observations. Maine has always paid attention to training."
Q: Three man vs. two man — how much better with three?
A: "There’s no question it’s better with three. I observe about 150 or 160 games a year. And I do observe beyond Maine in another role I’m in. Eighty percent of the games I see need the service of a crew of three. The game changed from an officiating point of view drastically with the three-point arc. It requires a substantially different responsibility for the trail official. The other thing is there was a day when most of the defensive pressure didn’t come about until two or three minutes left in the game. Today, typically with boys and girls there’s pressure all game long. We’ve had crews of three completely in our tournaments for at least a dozen years. About 30 percent of the regular season games are crews of three. It isn’t a great difference in cost."
Q: Are there any points of emphasis this year?
A: "There are five points of emphasis this year, arrived at by the national federation for state high schools. The points of emphasis for this year, both for the NCAA level and high school, include rules enforcement. Really it means don’t bring your personal version of the rules to the game. The second point of emphasis is on sportsmanlike behavior of players and coaches. The third point is pretty much contact, especially on the perimeter. Officials have been encouraged to give that a lot of attention. The fourth point is closely guarded situations. The rule is six feet between the offensive and defensive player. The fifth one is referred to as the principle of verticality. Just because the defender is airborne, it doesn’t make him wrong or the offensive player wrong. But they must be vertical. It also applies in rebound play, too."
Q: What’s most difficult call or rule to enforce?
A: "The most difficult rule to enforce is traveling, no question. You have to watch the defender and a third person coming to set a screen while also watching the person with the ball. That’s what makes traveling difficult. A block-charge is probably the easiest rule for a well trained official."
Q: Have fans or coaches changed in their approach to officials?
A: "Overall I don’t think it’s changed. I think schools have changed their approach to how they regulate them."
Q: How are officials chosen for the tournament?
A: "There’s a long-time system in place. They have to have officiated a minimum of 50 regular-season Heal point games overall and 15 in that season to be eligible to be considered. They must also be fit and injury free. The commissioner has to have seen them officiate. Forms are sent to schools and coaches say who they would recommend. We usually have just about 100 for the three tournament sites. Coach recommendations and regional board recommendations are given consideration. I finalize it.
Q: What makes a good official?
A: "The quality official is someone who probably has a basketball background. From that point on, you truly have to have a passion for officiating. It’s obvious you have to have a mastery for the rules and the mechanics. You also have to be high on the composure side. It’s a rare official who gets to the varsity level in Maine prior to
five years. Without the commitment and passion you’re not going to make it. Basketball is played in a big living room compared to other sports and the emotions are high. The people around the court, it’s kind of like Sunday school, you have to forgive them when they complain. The good official gets every bit as much of an adrenaline flow as a ballplayer when he’s doing things well."
BOYS BASKETBALL TOP 10
1. Cheverus (7-0) The defending Class A state champions continued to roll through Western Maine with a 51-35 win against a good Thornton club in Saco.
2. Camden Hills (9-0) Keegan Pieri, a 6-foot-6 guard, returned after a month-long suspension to help the Wndjammers win 74-48 at previously unbeaten Winslow.
3. Bangor (8-1) After an opening loss, the Rams have reeled off eight straight, including Tuesday’s 49-35 win at Mt. Blue.
4. Hamden (7-2) The Broncos lost a 57-55 squeaker at Mt. Blue then bounced back with a 66-45 win against Messalonskee.
5. Edward Little (8-1) The two-time defending Eastern Maine champs downed Mt. Ararat 63-42 then nipped Brunswick 64-63.
6. Mt. Blue (7-2) The Cougars knocked off Hampden at home 57-55 but faltered a couple of nights later in losing to Bangor, 49-35.
7. Mountain Valley (9-0) The Falcons are going for their second straight unbeaten regular season. They recently faced their toughest test to date in a 52-45 win over Dirigo.
8. Thornton (5-2) After a 5-0 start the Trojans lost 50-48 to Deering then were beaten at home by Cheverus, 51-35.
9. Cape Elizabeth (6-1) After a loss to Yarmouth, the Capers bounced back with wins against Greely and Gray-New Gloucester.
10. Ellsworth (8-0) The Eagles remained unbeaten but face their toughest test of the season this week against unbeaten Mount Desert Island.
Junior point guard D.J. Johnson of Islesboro scored his 1,000th point recently against Calvary Chapel.
Senior forward Maggie Sabine of Oak Hill topped the 1,000-career point mark with a 21-point performance against Rockland.
GIRLS' BASKETBALL TOP 10
1. McAuley (7-0) The Lions, who routed Scarborough and topped Bonny Eagle, 48-33, await a couple of late-season tests against in-town rival Deering.
2. Cheverus (7-1) The Stags’ only blemish is a three-point loss to McAuley. They’re coming off a 34-point win against Thornton.
3. Deering (7-0) The Rams had surprisingly close wins against Biddeford (48-37) and Thornton (53-46).
4. Morse (10-0) The Shipbuilders remained unbeaten with a big 59-47 victory against previously unbeaten Edward Little.
5. York (10-0) The defending Class B champions downed Greely 48-22 and have yet to be challenged.
6. Leavitt (10-0) The Hornets kept pace with York in Class B West with a 66-61 statement win against Nokomis.
7. Gorham (6-1) The Rams, whose only loss is to unbeaten Deering, cruised to a big victory against Kennebunk this week.
8. Windham (7-2) The Eagles’ only losses tis seaosn are to McAuley and Cheverus. Next up is a key test against Gorham.
9. Edward Little (8-1) After losing to Morse in a battle of unbeatens, the Red Eddies bounced back with wins against Brunswick and Mt. Ararat.
10. Hampden (8-1) After losing a showdown against Edward Little, the Broncos rebounded with wins over Mt. Blue and Messalonskee.
BOYS' HOCKEY TOP 10
2. St. Dominic
9. Edward Little
WRESTLING TOP 10
2. Camden Hills
5. Mountain Valley
8. Mt. Blue