The expansion of Maine high school basketball from four classes to five didn’t do Buckfield any favors, on the surface.

After decades as a fixture in Class D, the Bucks are now slotted in Class C South with the likes of Dirigo, Winthrop, Boothbay, Waynflete and Old Orchard Beach. Despite that step up in tournament competition, Buckfield believes its traditional East-West Conference schedule offers enough opportunity for wins to reach that playoff, if everything goes according to plan.

Buckfield won’t have anyone in the regular rotation taller than 6-foot-1, so defense and team rebounding will be keys. The Bucks welcome back four players who started at least one game a year ago, including Hunter Wiley, Aaron Rowe, Jake Kraske and Zack Grover.

Coach Mark Thurlow thinks Kraske could emerge as one of the top players in the EWC, and multi-sport athletes Ethan Jackson and Noah Wiley could contribute immediately in their first varsity campaigns.

Buckfield will plan six regular-season games against Class C opponents: Two apieve versus NYA, Sacopee Valley and Richmond.

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