Class AA North

Players to watch: Jr. G Terion Moss, Portland; Jr. G/F Griffin Foley, Portland; Sr. F Jarod Norcross Plourde, Edward Little; Sr. G Samatar Iman, Edward Little; Soph. F Wol Maiwen, Edward Little; Sr. C Raffaele Salamone, Deering; Soph. F Ben Onek, Deering; Sr. F Jack Casale, Cheverus; Jr. C Jesse Matthews, Cheverus; Soph. F Matt Fleming, Oxford Hills;  Jr. F Chris St. Pierre, Oxford Hills; Jr. G Nick Curtis, Windham; Jr. G Mike Gilman, Windham.

Favorites: Portland, Edward Little

Portland’s seniors will be looking to make it 4-for-4 in state championship game appearances, but it’s underclassmen such as Moss and Foley who lead their mission of last year’s title defense. Moss, a 5-foot-9 point guard, is one of the toughest matchups in the state because of his quickness, shooting and ball-handling skills. 

EL handed the Bulldogs one of their two losses, 76-70, in December, and made things difficult for Moss at key moments in the game. The Eddies Their offense flows through Norcross Plourde and Iman, but Maiwen and junior Darby Shea are also capable of taking games over — Maiwen with his defense and above-the-rim play and Shea with his 3-point shooting. 

Dark horse: Oxford Hills

The temptation is to call the rest of the field a dark horse. The other four teams played at least one of the favorites tight during the regular season, and No. 6 seed Windham handed EL its only loss. 

Deering has the size and talent to give either of the favorites a run for their money. But the Rams, if they survive a potential semifinal matchup with Edward Little, could face their white whale in the final — Portland, which they haven’t beaten since 2013.

Oxford Hills is also big and talented. Aside from a loaded bracket, the Vikings’ biggest obstacle may be their youth, which played out in their up-and-down season. They have one senior starter, guard Cole Verrier. They were a play or two away from beating Edward Little twice during the regular season, and handled Deering at home by 13 points. Fleming is a tough match-up for anyone, and St. Pierre and Verrier can make defenses pay for paying too much attention to him. 

Overview:

Last year’s inaugural tournament is remembered more for the empty seats at the Augusta Civic Center than the action on the court. Hopefully a more unpredictable tournament means a better atmosphere. There are plenty of good matchups, potential matchups and players to be excited about. 

Portland and Edward Little are happy to have first-round byes, but whoever emerges from the quarterfinals will have additional confidence and momentum coming off a win against a good team. Windham has arguably the best backcourt in the tournament. Oxford Hills has an emerging star in Fleming and Cheverus has an established one in Casale. Deering has plenty of size and athleticism and some holdovers from last year’s regional finalist.

In a tournament loaded with land mines, experience, depth, poise and pedigree can make the difference, and one team has those qualities on its resume.

Prediction: Portland

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