High School Boys’ Basketball Tourney picks

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Let’s take a closer look at the region, and who might emerge as champions:

Eastern Class A

Hampden Academy is on an incredible roll, with 40 wins in a row, back-to-back regional titles and a state championship over the last two-plus years. The Broncos leveled the rest of the KVAC, winning by an average of 27.3 points per game. Only Brunswick and Oxford Hills gave them any trouble. Oh sure, last year’s average margin of victory was 28 points, and yet the Broncos needed Nick Gilpin’s miracle shot to survive Lawrence. But this team has more experience and all-around talent team than last year’s. They will be tested by Lewiston’s zone and any of the opponents that follow in the next two rounds, but the Broncos have too many weapons to be stopped.

Prediction: Hampden

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Western Class B

Greely dominated the WMC, losing only to Class A power Falmouth. But the conference wasn’t as top-heavy as it has been in recent years. Yarmouth has proven to be dangerous in the underdog role in recent years, and may be catching the Rangers at just the right time in the event both advance to the semifinals. Spruce Mountain has the depth and athleticism to surprise, and has gone to great lengths to prepare itself for the Class B field after playing a predominantly Class C schedule. Morse has no such worries, emerging from the rugged KVAC with a penchant for winning close games. The Shipbuilders would have felt right at home in the WMC this year, which is why they’ll snap the conference’s streak of six consecutive regional titles.

Pick: Morse

Western Class C

Dirigo is tough to beat when it’s the top seed, especially when it shows up at Augusta with a sour taste in its mouth. The Cougars were the most consistent team all season and are running like a well-oiled machine. Boothbay’s off-court issues (six players suspended) opens the door for Waynflete to try to spoil Dirigo’s season again, and the Flyers have the talent and confidence to do it. Maranacook may be the best No. 4 seed in the state, having played 18 games against Class B teams and won 13 of them. The Black Bears will be a huge hurdle for Dirigo to clear in the semifinals. The bet here is that they will, and the momentum from that and thirst for revenge against the Flyers will propel the Cougars their fifth C West title in six years.

Pick: Dirigo

Class D West

Forest Hills earned the top seed and hasn’t been beaten on the ACC floor in three years. But this is a different Tiger team than the last two to pick up the hardware. Greenville, Valley and NYA all built impressive resumes this season, but Hyde has played the most consistently strong defense, and as we were reminded two Sundays ago, defense wins championships.

Pick: Hyde

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