AUGUSTA – Rangeley went into Monday’s Western Class D girls’ quarterfinal not having played a real game in 11 days. Actually, that game could be called into question, too, since the Lakers routed Elan, 89-9, in their regular-season finale on Feb. 8.

The layoff was obvious on Monday, when the rusty Lakers shot just 15 percent from the field and had to scramble to knock off seventh-seeded Hebron, 37-27. Rangeley coach Heidi Deery, who has lots of experience with byes, doesn’t think teams can be ready for the tournament after such a long period of relative inactivity.

“(The layoff) killed us,” Deery said. “I think it’s not fair. You look in Eastern Maine and everybody’s got a preliminary game except the No. 1 seed. I’ve been a No. 1 seed plenty of times. I wouldn’t mind playing a preliminary game.”

Under the current system, the top four teams in Western D get a bye, leaving them with more than a week before their tournament begins. Teams often try to keep sharp during the lull by scrimmaging tournament-bound squads in other classes or regions. Rangeley scrimmaged Madison last Friday, but Deery pointed out it’s sometimes tough to find a willing, available and competitive opponent.

“And especially for Class D teams,” she said. “You know, who the heck wants to scrimmage us, pre-tournament? I think everybody should have a preliminary game or nobody should.”

Advantage, MVC

Now that the heavy hitters are involved, conference bragging rights in the Western Class C boys’ tournament have undergone a seismic shift.

Players, coaches and fans of the Western Maine Conference had plenty to crow about after the preliminary round, when their teams went 4-0 against the Mountain Valley Conference. No. 4 Waynflete, No. 5 Traip and No. 6 St. Dom’s were heavily favored in their contests, while No. 10 North Yarmouth Academy pulled off a mild upset of Georges Valley.

It’s still lonely at the top for the MVC, though. Revenge came in one-sided fashion Monday afternoon when No. 3 Winthrop walloped St. Dom’s and No. 2 Boothbay knocked out NYA. The next head-to-head confrontation comes at 8:30 p.m. Thursday, when Monday’s Waynflete-Traip and Dirigo-Livermore Falls winners collide in the semifinals.

Multi-purpose Mustangs

The old sales pitch is that you can’t identify the players without a program. But how often are the players the same people who sell you the program?

That was the case Monday at Augusta Civic Center, where Monmouth Academy girls’ basketball players Jen Lola, Sam Fairchild and Katie Woodman were among the hawkers selling Class C souvenir programs to afternoon session spectators at $2 a pop.

“They’re my Future Business Leaders of America,” said Monmouth coach and business teacher Rick Amero. “They let them keep a quarter for each one they sell.”

Just being in the building was probably good preparation for the enterprising Mustangs, whose fourth-seeded team will meet No. 5 Mt. Abram at 7 p.m. tonight in the regional quarterfinals.

Monmouth’s limited experience at the civic center includes a quarterfinal loss to Jay in 2005 and an appearance in the Mountain Valley Conference championship game against Dirigo last Monday.

“They like being here,” Amero said.

Morning madness

Monday’s early Western Class D girls’ session didn’t set any records for offensive proficiency.

Richmond vanquished Vinalhaven and Rangeley outlasted Hebron without any team topping the 40-point threshold. A look at the other statistics painted a pretty good picture of why. The four teams were a combined 41-for-206 from the field in the game, or less than 20 percent accuracy.

They also collaborated for 107 turnovers.

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