Gray-New Gloucester’s Jordan Grant, center, drives to the basket past Lake Region’s Shauna Hancock, left, and Lauren Jakobs, right, last season. (Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal)

Two major factors make Gray-New Gloucester an overwhelming favorite in Class B South this season.

First, every player returns from last season’s top-seeded team.

Second, the other top teams in last year’s knock-down, drag-out battle for seeding have been decimated by graduation.

“I guess, based on what we have back, people would consider us the favorite,” Gray-NG coach Michael Andreasen said. “But as we found out last year, No. 1 doesn’t always come out (of the region playoffs).”

The Patriots’ two most important players, senior guard Bri Jordan and junior post Jordan Grant, are back and further brilliance from both is pretty much a given this season.

“The top team is definitely Gray-New Gloucester,” Poland coach Tim Dolley said. “I think they got everyone back from last year. And to deal with the two 6-footers (Jordan and Grang), that’s going to be tough for most.”

Perhaps more important, though, is the return of the other players, who now are seasoned with a season of significant playing time. Many were part of the 2017 state championship, but they mostly watched from the bench as Jordan, then a sophomore, and Grant, then a freshman, teamed up with four seniors to claim the school’s first basketball title.

Now it’s time to take the next step.

“I think last year, we lacked big-game mentality in big games,” Andreasen said. “This year, I think for us, (we need) more mental stability.”

No team in B South was hit harder by graduation than Poland. The Knights relied heavily on a group of basketball-savvy seniors to earn the No. 2 seed before falling in the region semifinals.

But the Knights aren’t alone.

“I’ll be honest with you,” Poland coach Tim Dolley said, “there’s a lot of Western Maine (Conference) teams that are in the same boat as us, that lost a lot of players.”

Freeport (last year’s third seed) and Lake Region (the reigning region champ) each lost several key players, both both have a few key players returning.

“Lake Region, every year, is good,” Andreasen said.

The uncertainty among last year’s top four leaves opening near the top with Gray-NG.

Oak Hill and Mountain Valley play in the Mountain Valley Conference (instead of the Western Maine Conference like the majority of B South’s team), so they’re always unknowns until the postseason.

But the Raiders and Falcons could be in the mix for high seeds.

“Obviously, Oak Hill is going to be really tough this year, Dolley said. “I think they got a lot of girls returning. Mountain Valley will be tough. They were there last year, and I don’t think they lost much, either.”

Mountain Valley returns Rylee Sevigny, coming off a spectacular freshman season, as well as post Courtney Carrier and Avery Sevigny.

Andreasen has his eye on Wells as a team that might make a leap to near the top of the conference this season.

“I like Wells,” Andreasen said. “They have this girl, Franny Ramsdell, who’s a solid player. They’ve always got some good players.”

Spruce Mountain, another MVC team, looks to move into the upper half of B South behind veterans, such as sharpshooter Haley Turcotte, and a stout defense.

Lisbon is seeking a return to the postseason, but will have to do so without star point guard Giana Russo, who will miss the season due to injury.