Portland has dominated Maine high school basketball’s big-school class through reclassification (from Class A to AA) and change of tournament venue (Portland to Augusta and now back to Portland).
The Bulldogs have won four regional titles in a row and taken home the gold ball three of the past four years, and they are the favorite again this season. Boasting senior point guard Terion Moss, widely considered the best player in the state, and standout senior swingman Griffin Foley, Portland will try to win three consecutive state championships for the first time in school history.
Windham returns a dynamic duo of its own in senior guard Nick Curtis and Mike Gilman and should challenge Portland. So should Edward Little, which handed Portland one of its two losses last season before the Bulldogs got their revenge in the regional final.
The Red Eddies graduated three starters, including leading scorers Jarod Norcross Plourde and Samatar Iman, but still have imposing talent at both ends of the floor. Senior forward Darby Shea can be unstoppable from the perimeter when he is on. Junior forward Wol Maiwen is as electric in the open court as anyone in the state and uses his athleticism and 7-foot wingspan to cause havoc on the boards and at the front of the Eddies’ vaunted press.
The addition of Ibn Khalid, a senior transfer from Lewiston, gives coach Mike Adams another athletic playermaker at both ends. Adams’ only concern is how quickly the Eddies learn to share the ball.
“We have guys who can score in a lot of different ways,” Adams said. “If they can all come together and jell and if we do our job as coaches in getting them to do that, we’ll be in the mix.”
Oxford Hills expected to be in the mix, too, after reaching the regional semifinals last year with just one senior starter. But junior forward Matt Fleming, their top scorer, rebounder and playmaker, transferred to Bangor.
“We’ll have to get more scoring from others and spread it around,” Vikings coach Scott Graffam said. “Chris St. Pierre will have to handle the ball more for us. Cole (Verrier) graduating and Fleming (transferring) leaves a void there.”
The Vikings will still be a handful with St. Pierre, fellow guard Janek Luksza and forwards Colton Carson and Atreyu Keniston setting a physical tone. Earning a top four seed will be a goal for them and the rest of AA North as a change in the tournament format has the higher seed hosting quarterfinal games.
Lewiston coach Tim Farrar knows few expect his team to be hosting one of those first-round games. But he thinks the Blue Devils could be a team no one wants to see on the other side when the tournament starts.
“The goal is going to be to get better every day and if we keep getting better, we’re going to be tough to beat late in the season,” he said.
The Blue Devils lost a lot of scoring from last year, but their calling card is creating chaos on defense and letting the offense flow from there. Seniors Garrett Poussard, Jeremy Madore, Noor Hussein and Derek Foy lead the charge.
Edward Little’s Samatar Iman handles the ball while being guarded by Porland’s Terion Moss during the basketball game at Edward Little High School last season.