Western Class C Boys’ Preview: Cougars back in familiar spot

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Players to watch

Dirigo — Kaine Hutchins (Jr. F), Dylan Kidder (Sr. F), Riley Robinson (So. F); Waynflete — Milo Belleau (So. G), Serge Nyirikamba (Sr. F); Winthrop — Jacob Hickey (Fr. G), Taylor Morang (Jr. G); Maranacook — Cam Brochu (Jr. F), Taylor Wilbur (Sr. G); Monmouth — Brandon Goff (Sr.F), Marcques Houston (Sr. C); Hall-Dale — Brian Allen (Jr. C), Ryan Sinclair (So. F); Wiscasset — Travis Padilla (Jr. G/F), Dale Peaslee (Sr. G).

Favorites

Returning to its familiar spot as the top seed, Dirigo brings plenty of talent, experience and motivation to Augusta. Waynflete burst the Cougars’ invincibility bubble at the ACC when it ended their 13-game regional tournament winning streak in last year’s semifinals. The Cougars have played with a purpose all season, and with Boothbay losing six players (three starters) to suspension, they are the clear favorites out of the Mountain Valley Conference, a role they’ve thrived in.

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Waynflete obviously won’t be intimidated by Dirigo. The Flyers have advanced a round deeper in the tournament each of the last two years with much of the same nucleus. They played a cross-section of teams from B, C and D in the Western Maine Conference and only lost to Lake Region and Yarmouth, two of the final eight in B West.

Dark horses

While Dirigo’s schedule featured two Class B teams and Waynflete’s included four, Maranacook played nothing but Class B teams in the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference. After reaching the Western B quarterfinals last year, the Black Bears went 13-5 as the conference’s lone Class C team. They are quick and athletic and boast one of the tournament’s most explosive players in Wilbur, who averages over 25 points per game.

Facts and figures

Waynflete also broke Dirigo’s string of six consecutive regional final appearances last year… Dirigo (four times), Boothbay (twice) and Winthrop (twice) have dominated the tournament the last eight years. Hall-Dale was the last team to break up that troika, in 2006… Monmouth and Waynflete are seeking their first regional titles… Nyirikamba was second in the WMC in scoring, averaging 21.2 ppg…This is the third year in a row Dirigo enters the tournament with a 17-1 record… Few fans could compare Maine’s high school tournament venues with more authority than Maranacook fans, who have traveled to Augusta, Bangor and Portland for regional tournament games the last 15 years. The Black Bears last played at the ACC in the Western B tournament in 2000. They moved to Eastern B in 2002 and reached the Bangor Auditorium a year later. They moved back to Western B in 2011 and made their Expo debut last year.

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