Dynasties are a rarity in sports these days. Even in high school boys’ hoops, where the last true regime, Western D power Valley, was toppled for the first time in nine years.

But who among us has the psychic authority to proclaim that dynasties are dead. Maybe some new ones are just getting started.

Three of the four defending champions, Mountain Valley, Winthrop and Richmond, should or at least could be considered favorites this year. And the last time the fourth, eighth-seeded Hampden Academy, was ranked this low, it went on to win the gold ball. And Hampden, of course, is the only two-time reigning regional champion.

For those who loathe long reigns of dominance, we’ve got plenty of new blood (Edward Little, Dirigo, Gould Academy) and resurgent mainstays (Mt. Blue, Boothbay, Greely, York).

It’s all a matter of preference; whether you like favorites or underdogs, big teams or small teams, up-tempo or half-court styles, you’ve got plenty of choices.

If you don’t have a dog in the hunt wearing your school colors, hopefully this can give you a head start on whom to follow.

Five to watch

Troy Barnies, 6-7 sr. center, Edward Little; Alex Gallant, 6-4, sr. forward; Sam Leclerc, 5-11 jr. guard, Winthrop; Sean McNally, 6-8 sr. center, Gardiner; Andy Shorey, 6-4 sr. center, Mountain Valley.

Best quarterfinal matchup

No. 6 Gardiner (12-7) vs. No. 3 Mt. Blue (15-3), 4 p.m. Saturday at the Augusta Civic Center. Simply put, this is the only matchup that features two teams who can make legitimate cases to go all the way. These are the two hottest teams in Eastern A this side of Edward Little. Gardiner will have to slow down Mt. Blue, which will want to play helter-skelter on the ACC floor. The Cougars don’t have anyone on the roster over 6-foot-2 and will have to figure out a way to defend McNally.

Darkhorse

Gardiner. A preseason favorite, the Tigers survived the chaos of their coaching situation and the illness of floor general Kyle Stilphen. Stilphen is back, taking some of the scoring pressure off McNally and giving them much-needed direction on offense. They’d have to go through Mt. Blue and Bangor or Brunswick to get to the final, though.

Fast facts

• The Western A and B quarterfinals will be played at the Portland Expo, the first time the venerable building is hosting an MPA tournament since the early 1970s for the boys and mid-80s for the girls, according to Cheverus athletic director Gary Hoyt.

• This is the first time Edward Little has reached the quarterfinals since it moved to Eastern Maine in 2004. The Eddies reached the regional final their last year in the Western Maine tournament. The last time they went into the tournament undefeated, in 2000, they were knocked out by Portland in the quarterfinals.

• Gardiner and Mt. Blue met in last year’s quarterfinals, except that time, the Tigers were the No. 3 seed and the Cougars the No. 6. Gardiner won, 61-60, in overtime.

• Class B West currently has the longest drought for any region without a gold ball. Eastern Maine teams have won every title since Gorham brought it to the West in 2000.

• Since the end of the open tournament in 2002, no team has made it to a regional final in Augusta without a first-round bye. Hampden was the last to do it in Eastern A, in 2005 as the No. 9 seed.

Predictions

A East – No. 1 Edward Little over No. 3 Mt. Blue: Pupil (Mike Adams) vs. mentor (Jim Bessey), but neither team will have an easy time getting here. The Eddies boast the best player in the tournament (Barnies), and their guards have been playing with more confidence down the stretch. Mt. Blue gets the nod over Bangor because it beat the Rams during the regular season and has the steadier backcourt of the two teams.

B West – No. 3 Mountain Valley over No. 1 Greely: That silence you hear is the skeptics who normally question the Falcons’ pedigree coming out of a predominantly Class C league. They were more the adequately tested in the MVC this year. Greely was rarely tested in the Western Maine Conference before its only loss, to Falmouth, in the penultimate game of the regular season. Tournament experience trumps depth in this one.

C West – No. 1 Dirigo over No. 2 Boothbay: The two teams playing the best basketball right now. Earning the top seed was vital in this region. Dirigo should breeze through its bracket. Boothbay will likely face Georges Valley and Winthrop, two tough outs.

D West – No. 1 Richmond over No. 2 Gould Academy: Both teams are unbeaten. Richmond has the most intimidating big man in Class D, Mark Zaharchuk. Gould has perhaps the best big man you haven’t heard about, Ian Seikman.


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.