There are countless ways to express how long Monmouth Academy went between Western Class C boys’ basketball quarterfinal appearances.

All of them are jaw-dropping.

When it last happened in 1977, the tournament was played at Edward Little High School.

Coach Lucas Turner wasn’t born.

Athletic director Rick Amero was a 10-year-old student at the town’s elementary school and rode in the family car with his parents to the game.

And Monmouth was a member of the Mid-Maine Conference, a league that went out of existence almost 20 years ago.

It all puts into perspective what the Mustangs have accomplished in two years under Turner — two straight playoff appearances and back-to-back winning seasons. The latter is another distinction that hasn’t happened in Class C since the Ford and Carter administrations.

Judging from the smile on Turner’s face and the lengthy conversations with appreciative alumni and parents, there wasn’t much a 62-42 loss to Old Orchard Beach could do Monday to dampen that upstart winning spirit.

“I took a long time in the locker room and a long time out here. Corey Dyke (a 2010 graduate) is right there. We made it to the prelim last year and these guys made it here, so these guys want to start a little tradition,” Turner said.

Monmouth lost to Traip in last year’s prelim. Despite two straight losses at the end of the regular season, the Mustangs had more than enough Heal Points in the bank to secure a sixth seed and avoid the dreaded play-in round.

Four seniors — Tim Whitmore, Roger Bachelder, Robby Neal and Jeremy Ashlock — each started and played their final game for the Mustangs.

“I played them right up until the 30-second mark because they asked to stay in,” Turner said. “That’s a special group of guys. I told them on awards night to pack a lunch, because I wasn’t going to shut up for a while about them.”

— Kalle Oakes

Breaking barriers

Monday night’s first Western Class C boys’ quarterfinal provided a historic moment. It is believed to be the first time that two African-American coaches have faced one another in the tournament.

Former University of Maine star Rich Henry led No. 4 Waynflete, while Morse product Wayne Benjamin guided No. 5 Wiscasset.

Each team made it to Augusta last year, as well, falling in the first round.

— Kalle Oakes

’Gulls flying under radar

Old Orchard Beach sent a message Monday to anyone who thought that the Western Class C boys’ semifinals would be a Mountain Valley Conference invitational.

The Seagulls put four scorers in double figures and led for all but two minutes of a 62-42 victory over Monmouth.

No. 3 OOB moved into the semis for the second straight year.

“I replaced eight seniors. It’s a whole new starting five that came out here, and they just kind of bought into what we do and they’ve played very well,” OOB coach John Regan said.

No school outside the MVC has won the regional since 1999, and no current WMC school has hoisted the trophy since OOB did it in 1994.

OOB toils in relative obscurity in a league known for its Class B strength.

When St. Dom’s bolted for the MVC two years ago, it removed another team from an already small delegation. OOB, Traip and Waynflete now are forced to play each other three times instead of the traditional two, while picking up games against available Class B and D opponents.

— Kalle Oakes

Milestone win

Valley girls’ basketball coach Gordon Hartwell earned his 200th career win with the Cavaliers 54-53 Western D quarterfinal win Monday over Great Portland Christian.

It didn’t come easily for third-seeded Valley (12-6). Sixth-ranked GPC (13-5) rallied late in the fourth and took a 49-46 lead with 1:38 left. The Lions turned the ball over three times in their next few possessions. Valley’s Hali McQuilkin and GPC’s Liz Garland traded baskets before Cindy Schultz scored with six seconds left on an inbounds pass.

East-West Conference teams are now 68-19 against non-EWC teams in the last 18 years, and GPC has not won a game in Augusta since 1988.

For Schultz it was a grand return. She set the record for 3-pointers in a game in the regional final two years ago. She missed most of last season to injury and returned to score 29 for Valley, including hitting another five 3-pointers.

— Kevin Mills

Familiar foes

When Rangeley and Vinalhaven met in Monday’s quarterfinal, it wasn’t a rare occurrence. The Vikings have lost five of its last six quarterfinal games to Rangeley. The Lakers beat the Vikings in 2009, thanks to a late basket by Allie Hammond. Vinalhaven also lost tourney games to Rangeley in 2006, 2004,2003, 2002, 1992 and 1984.

— Kevin Mills


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