AUGUSTA – Terry Bunce was just doing one of the things she does best. During practice in preparation for Wednesday’s Eastern A semfinal, the Oxford Hills senior drove toward the basket.

“We were scrimmaging, and I went up for a layup,” recalls Bunce. “Someone else on the team tried to take a charge and they hit me. I twisted it and landed on it.”

The collision Tuesday put the Vikings’ top scorer out of action with a knee injury. She’s expected to see an orthopedist Monday to determine the severity of the injury.

“I had it looked at yesterday,” said Bunce, who runs track in the spring. “They said it had nothing to do with bones or anything, but it might be ligaments. I can’t walk on it, and I can’t bend it.”

The collision ended Bunce’s hopes of playing against Cony. Instead of taking the court with her fellow Vikings with hopes of reaching the regional final, Bunce was on the sidelines in a straight-leg cast and crutches. The news that she would not play was devastating.

“I cried the whole night,” said Bunce, her eyes welling up with tears after her team’s gallant effort against Cony.

Bunce led the Vikings with 16.1 points per game, fifth in the KVAC South. She was an all-conference player and also among the statistical leaders in 3-pointers and free throw percentage. Losing her scoring touch and experience was a significant loss, but Bunce still made her presence known Wednesday.

“Terry took it well,” said Oxford Hills coach Nate Pelletier. “It’s tough when you’re a senior and you’re not able to play in your last game. She cheered on her team the whole way, just like I asked her to. I give her a lot of respect for that.”

During warmups, Bunce leaned on her crutches beneath the basket and encouraged her teammates. She sat on the bench and actively tried to keep her teammates spirits up. She talked up guard Lauren Brett about the responsibility of handling the ball in the backcourt along with Kari Pelletier, who was battling an illness.

No ‘I’ in Henderson

In this era of basketball stars using the college game as a one-year steppingstone to riches, the players who stay four years feel like they’ve been around for seven or eight.

High school standout Jamie Henderson inspires the same reaction when he jogs onto the Augusta Civic Center each February wearing a garnet and gray Buckfield jersey: “What? You mean he hasn’t graduated yet?”

No, but he’s about to. From a fully grown freshman with multi-sport athletic skills to the consummate senior point guard, Henderson finished a fabulous run with the Bucks in a 52-48 Western Class D semifinal loss Wednesday to Richmond.

A four-year starter, Henderson helped Buckfield to four consecutive quarterfinal appearances. The Bucks ended a lengthy drought in Augusta with an easy first-round win over Elan and pushed the undefeated, top-seeded Bobcats to the brink of a colossal upset.

“He didn’t score 1,000 points for his career, but he should have and he would have,” Buckfield coach Cam Cowett said of Henderson. “He just took on kind of a different role this year spreading the ball around to some of the other kids.”

As the only senior on Buckfield’s 12-player roster, Henderson would gladly exchange a just-missed milestone for a chance to watch the Bucks capture a regional championship in 2008.

“These guys have come a long way this year,” Henderson said. “Johnny (Condon) has been our most consistent player inside, along with Zach Cowett. Cy Wilkinson when he gets going is unstoppable, and Andrew Litchfield is a great defensive player. They’re going to be good.”

Relatively speaking

Family connections are common in Maine high school basketball. Even by those standards, though, the thread running through the Western Class D tournament this year is staggering.

Three of the four boys’ semifinal teams featured father-son, coach-player tandems. The one that didn’t, perennial power Valley, featured four cousins – Curtis Miller, Trevor Miller, Stefan Staples and Brandon Osgood – among its top seven players.

Osgood is a transfer from Vinalhaven High School, for whom his sister, Nikki, played in the Western D girls’ tournament.

And Gould Academy has the Bruens brothers, Evan and Tyler, in its starting lineup. They’re twins, although Tyler is a 6-foot-5 center and Evan is a 6-foot guard.

New look next year?

Possible changes in the enrollment cutoff numbers as defined by the Maine Principals’ Association could make an impact on the 2007-08 Class D tournament.

Current cutoffs for the four basketball classes are as follows: Class A, 725 and up; Class B, 400 to 724; Class C, 225 to 399; and Class D, 1 to 224. The MPA has released provisional changes that would reduce the Class D threshold to 200 students.

If those numbers are approved by the MPA’s Interscholastic Management Committee in March and then the principals’ membership at large in May, prep schools Gould, Hyde, Kents Hill and Hebron all would move into Class C according their current enrollments.

Buckfield (204 students this year) also would be in danger of being forced to move up for the next two-year period in basketball, softball, baseball, soccer and cheerleading.

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