If you make it here, you just might make it anywhere.

This is where basketball teams make things happen. It’s where they make history, and where they make memories.

For the collection of basketball teams still playing, this is what the season has led up to. They’ve waited for this. They’ve played for this. Tournament basketball is like nothing else and starting Friday night, this is where players, teams and coaches get to make their mark.

Eastern A

Morse has been the front-runner all season. The Shipbuilders have the highest scoring team in the field and second-best defensive club. The top-seed also went 9-0 against the Eastern A field in the regular season.  Not many teams can match the tandem of Ostergaard and Burr — or the rest of the Shipbuilders. Morse is strong inside and has a variety of shooters.

EL has proven it can beat Morse, edging the Shipbuilders by one in the KVAC Championship game. Hampden has a solid club as well and didn’t play Morse in the regular season. On the right night, either can give the Shipbuilders a battle. If the Shipbuilders stumble and another team plays extremely well, Morse could be beaten (ask EL). But this year, I think Morse’s abundance of talent wins out.

Prediction: Morse

Western B

It’s tough to pick against York. The Wildcats have won 40 in a row over the last two seasons, including the Class B state title. The Wildcats scored more than 60 points per game and allowed only 26. The team also boasts one of the state’s top players in Taylor.

It’s also tough to pick against Leavitt. The Hornets produced their best regular season ever. Leavitt picked up from where it left off after last season’s semifinal loss to Greely and have beaten all comers, handily.

I expect Leavitt to meet Lake Region in one semifinal. That game could go either way. The Hornets might have the edge in offensive talent, but I wouldn’t bet against Paul True and the Lakers’ defense either.

Either way, the winner gets York. Leavitt could make for an interesting matchup, especially if the shots are falling that day. Lake Region has improved since the regular season loss to York.  But, overall,  the Wildcats are just too proven, too experienced and too good to pick against.

Prediction: York

Western C

It could be very easy to just pick top-seeded Hall-Dale. The Bulldogs have two of the tourney’s best players in Wolfington and Massey. The  17-1 record is hard to pick against, but the one team that beat them was Jay. The Tigers likely could meet Hall-Dale in the semifinals. Between Jay’s tourney experience and strong defensive play, it wouldn’t surprise me if the Tigers take down the top seed. Jay won eight straight to finish the season, including the win over Hall-Dale. If the Tigers can execute well offensively, they’ll be tough to beat.

What could make this tourney really intriguing is if Jay ends up meeting Livermore Falls in the regional final. That would be something else for these rival communities on the verge of uniting. The Andies won both regular season meetings, but it could be anybody’s game in a final. Livermore Falls has a tough opener against Dirigo, but a win there could pave its way to the final.

Prediction: Jay

Western D

Richmond and Rangeley have been the two top teams all season. It seems likely that those two will meet up in the regional final. Valley had a late season win over the Lakers while Greenville, the defending Western D champs, could also make noise.

I think Rangeley will get to the final, and if the Bobcats survive Greenville, they will too. The Lakers have been to the last two regional games and four of the last five and lost them all. Rangeley handled Richmond in the last meeting pretty handily. It might not be that easy, but the Lakers have overcome a lot of adversity this season and just might have something to show for it in the end.

Prediction: Rangeley


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