It’s showtime. The basketball tournament starts for real Friday night. I’ll be at the Augusta Civic Center for the Eastern A girls’ quarterfinals. If you can’t make it to the live action, follow allong on the Sun Journal’s live blog. Just go to www.sunjournal/tourney11.com

Here’s a look at tonight’s quarterfinals.

#3-Hampden (16-2) vs. #6-Mt. Ararat (9-9) 3 p.m

The Broncos won the first meeting 58-37. Hampden should be the favorite. They have seven returning seniors and won their quarterfinal game here last year, beating Edward Little.

Hampden scored 50.7 points per game and allowed just 34.9. The Broncos went 6-2 against the Eastern A field and have won five straight games.

All five of the Hampden starters saw time in the win over Edward Little last year. Katelyn DeRaps (8.4 ppg), Michaela Stephenson (7.8 ppg), Julia Snyder (6.5 ppg, 6.3 rpg), Kate Parsons (3.9 ppg) and Whitney Moore (5.4 ppg, 7.2 rpg) give Hampden a solid, balanced and experienced group. Stephenson was a KVAC North First Team pick while DeRaps and Moore were both named to the Second Team.

Mt. Ararat averaged 43.8 and allowed 41.5. The Eagles started the year 4-8 but have won five of their last six games. Mt. Ararat went 3-9 against the Eastern A tourney teams and have not won a quarterfinal since 2004.

The Eagles have just five players back from last year. Coach Kelly LaFountain shared KVAC South Coach of the Year honors for her efforts. Mariah Cropley (17 3’s) and Kristi Willey (12 3’s) are outside threats.

Historically, the third-ranked team in the 3-vs-6 matchup has gone 26-18 in the quarterfinals in Eastern A and are 13-13 in the semifinals.

#7-Bangor (12-6) vs. #2-Edward Little (15-3), 4:30 p.m.

After a strong regular season and a win in the KVAC championship game over Morse, you might think this will be an easy game for the second-seeded Red Eddies. Don’t count on it.

Bangor has some size, led by KVAC North all-star Hillary Throckmorton. The Rams have won four straight and seven or its last eight. And if EL has a letdown after the emotional win Monday against Morse or just starts out slow, it could give the Rams the opportunity they need.

The Rams, which scored 47.4 and allowed 42.0,  won their last four games by an average of just five points but have reached the semifinals just twice in the last 10 years.

One thing that could be a factor for Bangor is that the Rams tend to turn the ball over. EL boasts a defense that allowed just 37.9 points per game. EL’s ability to force turnovers and take advantage of them could decide this game.

EL can be a streaky shooting team, but they hang in there and find ways to win even if the offense struggles. Ashlee Arnold (18 ppg) was a KVAC South First Team pick while Miranda Martin has emerged as a force both offensively and defensively. Guards Kory Norcross and Frankie Lally are both threats to score while Kate Sawyer is a great ballhandler.

If it is a close game down the stretch, keep in mind that EL had three players in the top 10 in the KVAC South in free throw shooting, Sawyer (74%), Arnold (69%) and Lally (67%).

History favors EL. The second seed is 29-5 in the quarterfinals and 17-12 in the semifinals.

#5-Brunswick (12-6) vs. #4-Cony (10-8), 7 p.m.

This could be the best game of the night. The Rams swept the regular season series, 43-41 and 60-41.

The Rams have some size to match Brunswick’s post game. Crystal Clark (9.7 ppg, 6.5 rpg) and Melanie Guzman (8.7 rpg) are strong inside while Mia Diplock (10.1 ppg, 4.6 apg) is a strong perimeter presence for the Rams.

Cony missed the tourney last year after 27 straight playoff berths.  The Rams average 49.2 points and allowed 42.8 to earn a return to the ACC.  Cony started the season 2-4 and finished the season 2-3 in its last five games. The Rams have lost just one quarterfinal game (1999) since 1991.

Brunswick reached the regional final last year before losing at the buzzer to Skowhegan. The Dragons averaged 50.2 and allowed 38.5. Brunswick has a solid inside game with Lydia Caputi (9.9 ppg, 6.7 rpg), Dakota Foster (8.3 ppg, 8.4 rpg) and Emily Bryant (7.5 rpg). Guard Tianna Burton (16 3’s) offers an outside threat. Caputi, Foster and Bryant all ranked in the top 10 in the KVAC South in rebounding.

Some bad news for Cony, the fourth seed in the this 4-vs-5 quarterfinal has gone just 10-24 in Eastern A and are 0-10 in the semifinal.

#8-Messalonskee (9-9) vs. #1-Morse (17-1), 8:30 p.m.

These two teams didn’t meet in the regular season.

Morse has been the favorite most of the year. With Nikoline Ostergaard (21.5 ppg, 8.8 rpg), Tarra Burr (10.4 ppg) and Emma Block (9.6 ppg, 35 3’s), the Shipbuilders have a balanced and potent offense. Morse scored 60.4 per game while allowing just 36.0. Ostergaard was the KVAC South Player of the Year and led the Shipbuilders to a 9-0 record against teams in the Eastern A field. Morse won seven straight before losing in the KVAC game to EL, 39-38.

Messalonskee’s Megan Pelletier was a KVAC North First Team player while Mary Badeen was on the Second Team. The Eagles scored 43.5 per game but allowed 42.2. Messalonskee started the year 6-1 and had a string of four straight wins, but the Eagles have lost eight of its last 12 games.

Morse should be fired up after Monday’s loss in the KVAC game, and the Eagles have been struggling down the stretch. The top seed in Eastern A has never lost in the quarterfinal and is 29-5 in the semifinals.


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