Boys’ Basketball: Eastern A tournament overview

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Players to watch

Hampden — Christian McCue (Sr. G), Fred Knight (Sr. C), Logan Poirier (Sr. F), Zach Gilpin (Soph. F); Lewiston — Shawn Ricker (Sr. G), Luke Cote (Sr. G), Corbin Hyde (Sr. F), Josh Thomas (Jr. G); Mt. Blue — Cam Sennick (Sr. C), Eric Berry (Sr. G), Nick Hilton (Sr. F), Blake Hart (Sr. F); Lawrence — Emmitt Faulkner (Sr. G), Spencer Carey (Jr. F), Alex Leathers (Sr. F), Tim Dudley (Sr. G); Bangor — Patrick Stewart (Sr. C), Xavier Lewis (Soph. G), Ellis Throckmorton (Sr. F), John Szewczyk (Sr. G); Brunswick — Mitchell Black (Sr. G), Ryan Black (Soph. G), Garrett Erb (Sr. G), Trent Anderson (Sr. F); Edward Little — Quin Leary (Jr. C), Omar Haji-Hersi (Sr. F), Ian Therriault (Sr. G), Sean Ford (Jr. F); Erskine — Tom Grady (Sr. G), Shyler Scates (Sr. F), Tyler Belanger (Sr. C), Devin Duncan (Jr. G).

Favorites

Sure, we can talk about them if you’ve got an hour to spend. The consensus from the preseason coaches’ meeting is that the KVAC promised its closest competition and best balance in years, and nobody’s been disappointed. Overtime and buzzer-beaters and frantic final minutes have been the rule. Give Hampden the slight nod due to the Broncos’ KVAC title, the steady leadership of McCue and their ability to beat you inside (Knight) and out (Gilpin). Only Lewiston beat Hampden during the season, and the Blue Devils arguably are the most athletic team and play the best half court defense in the tournament. And despite Mt. Blue losing two heartbreakers to Hampden, with veterans Sennick and Berry leading the charge, many fellow coaches consider the venerable Jim Bessey’s boys the most talented club.

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Dark horses

It’s always foolish to overlook Bangor. The Rams have been erratic, but Stewart is one of the best players in the state and is capable of dominating if his team successfully controls the pace. It’s equally unwise to discount EL, which has been to the final four consecutive years and still has a Leary lurking. And in Mike McGee’s 30 years at Lawrence, the Bulldogs always seem most dangerous when they’re sniffing around in the middle of the pack. They’ve beaten Lewiston and were close enough to Hampden and Mt. Blue to smell upset.

Fun facts

No team other than Hampden, Bangor or EL has won the regional title since 2004 … Erskine’s win over Cony in the preliminary round was its eighth of the season. The Eagles were 2-16 in 2011 … Hampden had four wins by three points or less. Lewiston squeaked out six by five or fewer. If you like arithmetric  progressions, Lawrence landed wins in tight games by one, two, three, four and five points … No. 2 Lewiston and No. 3 Mt. Blue each lost to their quarterfinal opponent during the regular season. The Devils returned the favor by beating the Eddies in the season finale … Lewiston’s 15 wins are its most since 1990, when the Devils were 20-1 … The last Eastern A team to play in four straight finals before EL was Caribou, from 1980 to ‘83.

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