In what is the craziest, most parity-laden boys’ basketball season statewide in recent memory, St. Dominic Regional High School might the poster team.

The Saints sit at 8-5 with five games remaining in their inaugural Mountain Valley Conference campaign.

They’re seventh in the Western Class C Heal Points. Fewer than nine tournament index Heal Points (essentially one significant win) separate St. Dom’s from a spot in the top four. On the other hand, coach Ryan Deschenes’ team is roughly the same margin ahead of 11th place, a spot that would keep the Saints out of this year’s streamlined tournament entirely.

“Every night it’s Heal Points on the table,” Deschenes said. “Hall-Dale and Boothbay played (Thursday). Then we go to Boothbay (tonight). All our games are worth a lot of points, and so are everyone else’s.”

St. Dom’s has been on the receiving end of the occasional blowout loss (Mountain Valley, Wiscasset), doled out a couple of one-sided wins (Madison, Lisbon) and played its share of fitful fourth quarters with the rest of the field.

Wins over Hall-Dale by two points, Monmouth by three and Georges Valley by five are responsible for putting the Saints three games above the break-even mark and in reasonably good shape to make the playoffs.

“We came into the season thinking we would be good enough to get back to Augusta, even though we lost four starters,” said Deschenes, who led a senior-dominated team to the regional semifinals last February. “We seem to be gelling together. There was a little rough spot right around the new year, but we got through it.”

Peter Keaney is the Saints’ lone veteran, even though he’s still only a sophomore. 

After opening eyes with his tournament play at the civic center last winter, Keaney has broadened his ability by taking over the point guard spot. That move to the quarterback position of St. Dom’s offense hasn’t hindered his ability to score.

“It’s easy to forget that he’s still a sophomore, and once in a while you’ll see him still make one of those sophomore mistakes,” Deschenes said. “He is becoming our leader. He’s arguably our hardest worker. He’s done a good job getting guys involved, but his first step in taking the ball to the hoop himself is as quick as they come.”

Keaney missed St. Dom’s loss to Wiscasset. The Saints will get a chance to avenge that verdict at home in the final week of the regular season.

Keaney’s backcourt mate, Nate Poulin, has been a pleasant surprise for the Saints. Though he was a pivotal role player in last year’s tournament run as a sixth man, Poulin recognized that opponents feared only one dimension of his game.

“Last year and even into this summer, it was all about the 3-point shot,” Deschenes said of Poulin. “Now he’s added a dribble-pullup as well as a ball-fake, first-step and drive to the basket. Those two things open up the 3-pointer for him even more. But he’s had at least two games where he’s scored 10 to 12 points without a 3-pointer.”

St. Dom’s also enjoyed addition by another team’s subtraction when 6-foot-4 forward Tim Day transferred from Hall-Dale.

Day’s arrival has helped fill a glaring void for the Saints after most of its height and rebounding presence graduated.

“He’s a big man with guard skills. He would have been a starter on a pretty good Hall-Dale team,” Deschenes said. “Rebounding is still tough for us. Mountain Valley manhandled us on the boards. A good rebounding night for us is when it’s even.”

In addition to the contests against Boothbay (currently ranked No. 5) and Wiscasset (No. 9), St. Dom’s will face Monmouth (No. 8) again down the stretch.

“The top six is what everyone wants in order to avoid a preliminary game, and that’s doable,” Deschenes said. “Prelims are scary. You want to get directly to Augusta and be able to relax for a few days.”

SETTING THE BAR

Late-season Heal Point opportunities won’t be as plentiful for Edward Little, who used last week’s run of three road wins in four nights over previously unbeaten Brunswick, Morse and Brewer to move into the top spot in Eastern Class A.

The Red Eddies (11-2) won’t see another team with a winning percentage currently over .500 until the tournament, making it unlikely that defending regional champion EL will be the top seed for the third time in four years.

“That’s OK,” said EL coach Mike Adams. “All we’ve talked about all along is improving and making sure we’re getting better at the end of the season.”

EL has won its last six games against mostly steep competition by an average of more than 17 points.

The healthy return of center James Philbrook from a toe injury and the emergence of multi-talented Yusuf Iman as one of the top guards in the state have transformed the Eddies. Those two seniors were EL’s lone returning starters entering the season.

“It’s not like us last year or Bangor the year before where you have that one dominant player or you’re overpowering,” Adams said. “But as a group collectively I think we’re pretty good, and we’re starting to show that.”

MILESTONE, AFTER A DETOUR

Scott Graffam of Oxford Hills quietly recorded his 200th coaching victory at the school last month against Lawrence.

His Vikings have added three more triumphs since then, including a 48-47 home victory Friday over Mt. Blue.

“What’s interesting about it is that I was gone for nine years,” said Graffam, who also coached at Medomak Valley and Scarborough between his two stints at Oxford Hills.

Oxford Hills (6-7) is currently ninth in Eastern A, one spot behind the cutoff line for a tournament berth.

HALF AND HALF 

The Maine Principals’ Association’s reduction of the tournament field from 67 to 50 percent of teams in each classification has turned the upcoming final two weeks of the regular season into a virtual preliminary round.

Cony’s 59-50 win Monday over Oxford Hills was a matchup of the No. 8 and No. 9 teams in Eastern A, respectively. Last year, a loss would have been much easier to swallow for the Vikings, with 11 teams making the postseason cut instead of eight.

“We play Cony twice here at the end, which is the reason we still have a chance,” Graffam said.

In Western B, Leavitt and Oak Hill remain on the outside looking in from what would have been tourney qualifying spots in the last decade. The same is true of Jay in Class C.

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