A year ago at this time, the Oxford Hills girls’ basketball team had never even won a quarterfinal game. So entering the playoffs, the Vikings couldn’t help but be a little apprehensive.

But that may not be the case this year.

“This team, I think they’re a little more prepared for it,” said Oxford Hills coach Nate Pelletier. “Last year, I think they thought they were good enough, but they’d never been there. So they didn’t know what it was like. This year, they’ve been there and they have that attitude that ‘We can get back there and do some damage.'”

One year after the Vikings went 14-4 and won their first quarterfinal game, they enter the postseason as the No. 3 seed with a 15-3 record in the final Eastern A Heal Point standings released Sunday. Both the record and ranking tie the best in program history.

“The good thing about this year with these girls is that they don’t want to stay there,” said Pelletier, the KVAC South Coach of the Year. “They have total confidence that they can win every game that they’re in, and we’ll go from there.”

For the fifth straight year, Mt. Blue has a preliminary game. The Cougars have lost three of the last four prelims, including last year’s hearbreaker to Nokomis. The only win during that stretch was followed by a quarterfinal loss.

“We have a lot of goals,” said senior forward Bonnie Silkman. “We know we can make it further than we have before. Because its the senior year for me, Christina (Mosher), Alyson (Webster), Natasha (Howard) and Sarah (Fournier), we’re really motivated and want to get further than we ever have.”

The Cougars finished 11-7 and edged out Morse for the sixth seeding. They host Hampden (9-9), a team Mt. Blue beat 53-45 and 52-48. The game features two future University of Maine teammates in Mt. Blue’s Mosher and Hampden’s Tanna Ross.

Edward Little finished 11-7 for ninth and a game at Bangor on Tuesday.

In Western C, Dirigo (17-1) captured its 14th No. 1 seeding, returning to a position it held for 11 straight years before dropping to second last year. The Cougars have eight state titles and 13 regional titles when being the top seed.

“As strong as the Mountain Valley Conference was this year, I’m very proud of our kids for finishing 17-1,” said Dirigo coach Gavin Kane, whose club graduated three seniors, including two starting post players. “I think that’s an outstanding accomplishment.”

Jay provided Dirigo’s lone loss and took third, despite the three forfeits it had early in the year.

The Tigers late surge and rise up the standings dropped Monmouth back to fourth, putting the Mustangs in the unusual position of playing in the MVC championship game tonight and then hosting a preliminary against Traip the next day.

“We’re happy to be playing in the MVC game,” said Monmouth coach Rick Amero, who said he had a feeling such a scenario might happen. “Its a great opportunity to play at the Civic Center again after not being there last year.”

He admits it’s a tough position to be in when a team wants to make the best of the MVC appearance, but the most important game is Tuesday. He feels his kids are pretty resilient and just love the opportunity to get out and play, so the back-to-back games shouldn’t bother them.

The Western C tournament could have a distinctive MVC flavor with 10 of the 13 playoff teams coming from that conference. Mt. Abram, Madison, Winthrop and Livermore Falls each host prelim games. Western Maine Conference teams are 15-44 against MVC clubs, 11-30 in Augusta, in the last 16 years.

In Class B, Lisbon has its first home playoff game since hosting a preliminary in 1983. Because of their small home court, the Greyhounds (9-9) host Poland (5-13) on Tuesday at Lewiston High School. It is the first playoff game for the Knights other than the open tournament years.

“I knew we could make the playoffs,” said Lisbon coach Jake Gentle, whose team went 0-18 last year and is shooting for Lisbon’s first playoff win since 1984. “I didn’t know the number of wins, but I just knew we were a playoff contending team.”

Mountain Valley (7-11) hosts a formidable 8-10 Gray-New Gloucester team that reached the semifinals last year, but were hampered by injury this season.

In Class D, Rangeley matched its 13-5 record of a year ago to earn the No. 2 seeding again despite losing four starters. Buckfield also earned a bye going from a 9-9 record to 12-4 and a fourth-place seeding. It is the highest ranking for the Bucks since being fourth in 2001.


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