Omar Haji-Hersi’s name may not roll off the tongue 10 or 20 years from now when casual high school basketball fans recall the stars from the Edward Little’s ongoing run as an Eastern Class A power.
The Red Eddies have, after all, sent Troy Barnies to the University of Maine and the professional ranks in Turkey. And you could hold a hellacious, full-court pick-up game with the players EL has promoted into the college game since 2007.
Just know that Adams will never forget a certain wiry forward who didn’t start until his senior season.
“He’s the most team-conscious kid I’ve ever coached,” Adams said. “And this is pretty good company to be in: He works as hard or harder than any kid I’ve ever coached.”
Haji-Hersi saved the best game of his career for last. He scored 23 points Wednesday night, 11 in a classic fourth quarter.
Mt. Blue held on for a 52-49 victory over the upset-minded, seventh-seeded Red Eddies, but not before Haji-Hersi scared the daylights out of everyone wearing white, blue and gold.
“Omar, if you saw where he was last year, he was the eighth man on our team. He worked every day in the spring, the summer and the fall,” Adams said. “There’s not a kid with better morals and values in our program. There’s not another kid in our program more involved with taking the younger kids under his wing and saying, ‘C’mon guys, this is how we do it.’”
Those interpersonal skills were especially valuable on what was Adams’ youngest team in many years.
Five of EL’s top eight players will return next season, including star center Quin Leary.
Sean Ford and Nate Alexander had sensational late-game moments in the tourney. Freshmen Llewellyn Jensen and Ian Mileikis were in the mix, also, with Jensen scoring six fourth-quarter points in a quarterfinal comeback against Lewiston.
“Mt. Blue is one of the best teams in the state. Our kids got it going at the right time. It’s disappointing that it’s over, but it was a great game,” Adams said. “It definitely puts your goals already to next year, because you’ve seen what you can do, and now you need to do more to get back here and maybe go one step further.”
In addition to Mr. and Miss Maine Basketball semifinalists, senior selections for the McDonald’s Senior All-Star games were announced this week.
The annual contests will be played Saturday, March 10 at Newman Gym on the campus of Husson University in Bangor. West plays East in four games: Class A/B Girls, Class A/B Boys, Class C/D Girls and Class C/D Boys.
Adrianna Newton and Jordan Hersom of Leavitt, each a semifinalist for the individual awards, will be part of the A/B games along with Jacob Littlefield of Poland, Jake Bessey of Spruce Mountain and Cam Sennick of Mt. Blue.
Three Dirigo boys — Cody St. Germain, Josh Turbide and Ben Holmes — will play in the C/D game along with Tom Applegate and Joe Bryant of St. Dom‘s, Ben Woodman of Monmouth and Tyler Foster of Winthrop.
The C/D girls game will include Alyssa Wade of Dirigo and Chantal Carrier of Rangeley.
No female in the history of the Augusta Civic Center or the Western Maine tournament has scored more points in a single game than Martha Veroneau of Waynflete.
Veroneau erupted for 47 points Thursday afternoon in the Flyers’ 78-61 win over Boothbay in the Western Class C girls’ semifinals.
She eclipsed the all-class record set in 2003 by Katie Sibley, coincidentally of Boothbay. Sibley, who went on to play at the University of Southern Maine, scored 45.
Veroneau also nailed nine 3-pointers to break her own single-game record of seven, set a year ago.
Earlier in the tourney, Evan Worster of Forest Hills scored 51 points in a boys’ quarterfinal.