You’re starting a basketball team and you have a choice of two contrasting styles. You can build a team with speed, limitless energy and a little bit of flash, or you can build one with strength, poise and blue collar sensibilities.

Which would you choose?

Perhaps tonight’s Class B state championship between 20-1 Maranacook and 21-0 Mountain Valley (9:05 p.m., Bangor Auditorium) could factor in the decision. The Black Bears are the aforementioned speed demons who would like to see the scoreboard digits climb into the 70s. The Falcons are the brains-and-brawn opponents who would just as soon give the Auditorium scorekeeper a light workload tonight.

“Their size concerns us, and they’re very athletic. For big guys, they can really get up and down,” said Maranacook coach Rob Schmidt. “They’re really quick. In the halfcourt, they’re going to trap us hard.”

“Their quickness concerns us and we hope our size concerns them,” said Mtn. Valley coach Dave Gerrish. “It’s two different teams and somebody is going to do some good things.”

Both teams did a lot of good things in their respective regionals. The Black Bears, making their first title game appearance, averaged over 70 ppg in the Eastern bracket. The Falcons, making their second bid for the Gold Ball in four years and looking to win their first title since 1994, held their opponents to just over 44 ppg (including a double-overtime session with York).

That’s just 10 more points than Maranacook’s 5-foot-8 sophomore guard Ryan Martin is averaging during the tournament. Martin, the KVAC Player of the Year, is a crowd pleaser, capable of elevating and getting his shot off over much taller opponents from the most impossible angles. He’s equally dangerous off the dribble or spotting-up from the outside and is clearly the focal point of any opponent’s defensive game plan.

“He’s extremely quick. He gets his shot off and plays with no fear,” Gerrish said. “We’ve just got to go out and try to play him.”

It will be interesting to see just how the Falcons intend to do that. In last Saturday’s Western B final, they came out in a diamond-and-one designed to keep the ball away from Falmouth star guard Bryant Barr, who is 6-foot-5 and not nearly as quick as Martin. Barr and the Yachtsmen were almost shut out for the first period, but then foul trouble and an adjustment by Falmouth to have Barr bring the ball up the court led to Mtn. Valley settling back into the traditional pressure man-to-man it has played all season.

It will also be interesting to see whether the Falcons do any pressing or have guards D.J. Gerrish, Marcus Palmer, Byron Glaus and Justin Staires try to clog the passing lanes. Teams that have tried to do one or the other or both against the Black Bears have usually been sorry, but the Falcons could have enough quickness and guile in their backcourt to allow them to do some overplaying in spots.

While the diamond-and-one did temporarily stymie Barr, he ended up scoring 24 points, just below his season average. The key for the Falcons was shutting down the rest of Falmouth’s offense. That probably won’t be so easy against Maranacook.

“They’re all scorers. They spread you out and they can all shoot the ball,” Gerrish said.

Sophomores Mike Poulin and Will Bardaglio averaged 10 ppg this year, while Jimmy Palmer and Kevin Leary are both capable of hitting the outside shot.

For the Black Bears to get out and run, though, they’ll have to keep one of the best rebounding teams in Class B off the offensive boards. Forwards Andy Shorey, who averaged 18 ppg and was the outstanding player of the Western B tournament, and Travis Fergola both stand about 6-foot-3, weigh around 230 pounds and give the Falcons a considerable strength advantage in the paint.

“We’ve been in trouble on the boards this year,” Schmidt said. “We work on boxing out, but what it really comes down to is we’re just not a big team. We’ll scrap with the best of them, but when you’ve got a guy 6-3, 240 and our biggest guy is maybe 6-2, 200, it will get you eventually.”

“But then again, our speed and quickness has worn teams out,” he added.

The Black Bears did just that in similar match-ups against bigger, stronger teams Medomak Valley and Presque Isle in Eastern B and will look to do it again tonight on the venerable Auditorium floor.

“We have to play our game, our tempo, our speed,” Schmidt said. “We want to go up and down, baseline to baseline, as fast as we can as many times as we can, and really test their two big guys to see how many times they can get up and down the court.”

The Falcons haven’t faced a team quite as fast as Maranacook in the tournament, but did beat a team with as much quickness and desire to run in MVC rival Winthrop twice during the regular season.

“We just want to go up there and play a good basketball game – rebound, play defense and execute,” he said. “That’s what tournament games come down to. If we go up there with some confidence and do those things well, we’ve got a chance to win.”


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