What does having the No. 1 seed mean for a basketball tournament played almost exclusively on a neutral court?

Well, it depends, mostly on matchups, and chance.

The top seeds and most other participants will be able to contemplate their chances while the boys’ and girls’ tournaments tip off with preliminary round games on Tuesday.

Last year’s boys’ and girls’ tournaments offered stark contrasts in the importance of rankings. In the boys’ tournament, nine out of 10 top seeds won their region. Only Edward Little, which won AA North as the No. 2 seed and went on to win the state title, broke ranks. On the girls’ side, only four of 10 top seeds won their region, and only one, Southern Aroostook in Class D North, took home a gold ball at the end.

No. 1 seeds in the boys’ brackets, such as Mountain Valley (B South) and Winthrop (C South), hope that trend continues, but it’s not an ideal precedent for girls’ top seeds such as the Oxford Hills (AA North), Gray-New Gloucester (B South) and Rangeley (D South).

Teams floating somewhere in the middle of the rankings, however, can take their cue from last year’s Winslow and Gorham teams, who rose from No. 6 in B North and No. 5 in AA North, respectively, to win their regions.


The Vikings and Patriots helped set that precedent as top seeds last year, while the Lakers return to the top spot after a one-year absence.

The top four seeds in boys and girls AA North do have something tangible to show for their ranking — home court in the quarterfinals, which will be played Tuesday. The region expanded its bracket from six to eight teams this season, which means the top two seeds will not receive a bye.


The Oxford Hills girls will host No. 8 Lewiston, a team they beat twice during the regular season. Defending champion Edward Little, which earned a bye as the No. 2 seed last year, is the fifth seed and will travel to No. 4 Portland, which the Red Eddies beat, 43-35, in Auburn in their only regular season meeting on Jan. 4.

Quarterfinal winners advance to the semifinals on Feb. 20 at Cross Insurance Arena in Portland.

In Class A South, Leavitt edged Biddeford for the final berth and will be the No. 9 seed travelling to No. 8 Fryeburg Academy for the region’s only prelim. The winner faces unbeaten top seed Greely, the defending state champion, on Feb. 18 at the Portland Expo.


In B South, No. 9 Spruce Mountain travels to No. 8 Maranacook in the prelim to determine Gray-New Gloucester’s opponent in the quarterfinals, which are Feb. 19 at the Portland Expo. Second-seeded Oak Hill already knows its opponent that day will be No. 7 Cape Elizabeth, while No. 6 Mountain Valley will face No. 3 Freeport.

Unbeaten Boothbay returns as the No. 1 seed in C South. The Seahawks reached the regional final last year before bowing to eventual state champion Monmouth Academy. But the Mustangs will have to start their quest for a third consecutive title in the preliminary round. They are the sixth seed and will host No. 11 Carrabec, which Monmouth beat twice during the season. The winner faces No. 3 North Yarmouth Academy in the quarterfinals.

In other C South prelims, No. 4 Hebron hosts No. 13 Madison, with the winner drawing the winner of the 5/12 prelim between Hall-Dale and Traip Academy in the quarterfinals. No. 8 St. Dom’s hosts No. 9 Buckfield for the right to meet Boothbay in the quarterfinals. The Saints won their only other meeting this season, 56-24, on Jan. 3 in Buckfield. No. 2 Winthrop earned a bye to the quarterfinals and will face the winner of the 7/10 prelim between Old Orchard Beach and Richmond.

The C South quarterfinals are Feb. 19 at the Augusta Civic Center.

Class D South top seed Rangeley starts pursuit of its first regional title since 2016 on Feb. 16 at the ACC with a quarterfinal matchup against No. 8 Seacoast Christian. The Lakers have already beaten the Guardians on a neutral floor once this season, taking their Jan. 12 meeting, 51-24, at Central Maine Community College.

The remaining No. 1 seeds in the girls’ tournament are: South Portland (AA South), Skowhegan (A South), Mount Desert Island (B North), Central Aroostook (C North) and Southern Aroostook (D North).



Defending state champion Edward Little beat Bangor in both teams’ regular-season finale but lost the No. 1 seed in AA North to the Rams once all of the Heal points settled. That sends No. 8 Lewiston north to face Bangor in the quarterfinals instead of across the river, where the second-seeded Red Eddies will host No. 7 Windham, which Edward Little beat in last year’s regional final. No. 3 Oxford Hills hosts No. 6 Cheverus. Winners advance to the semifinals on Feb. 19 at Cross Insurance Arena.

In Class A South, Leavitt not only collected its first tournament berth since 2013, when it was in Class B, but also its first quarterfinal since 2012 by securing the No. 4 seed. The Hornets will face No. 5 Kennebunk in the first game of the tournament at the Portland Expo at 6 p.m. on Feb. 15.

Mt. Blue heads into the A North tournament in the midst of its own turnaround. The Cougars will make their first tourney appearance since 2012 as the No. 3 seed facing No. 6 Brewer in the quarterfinals at 3:30 p.m. on Feb. 16 at the ACC. The two teams split their two regular-season meetings, with each winning at home.

For the first time since 2006, Mountain Valley will be the top seed in B South. The Falcons will face the winner of the region’s only preliminary, which pits No. 9 Lisbon against No. 8 Wells, the two-time defending regional champs. Mountain Valley’s quarterfinal is set for 4 p.m. on Feb. 16 at the Portland Expo.

Spruce Mountain and/or Gray-New Gloucester fans may want to stick around to watch that quarterfinal since the Phoenix and Patriots will play the preceding quarterfinal (2:30 p.m. tip). It is the second year in a row they have met in the 4 vs. 5 game. The Patriots, who are the fourth seed, were the fifth seed when they knocked off the Phoenix, 57-34, at the Expo last year.


Winthrop holds the top spot in C South for the second time in three years and knows its quarterfinal is set for 9 p.m. on Feb. 18 at the Augusta Civic Center. What the Ramblers have yet to learn is whether Mountain Valley Conference rival Dirigo, the ninth seed, or WMC representative North Yarmouth Academy, the No. 8 seed, will join them. That will be determined in a prelim slated for 6 p.m. on Wednesday at NYA.

No. 6 Monmouth will host No. 11 Mt Abram in a prelim, with the winner advancing to face the No. 3 seed, defending regional champion Hall-Dale, in the quarterfinals. No. 12 Buckfield and No. 5 Traip Academy will battle in another prelim to face No. 4 Boothbay in the quarterfinals.

Class D South boasts one of the two unbeaten boys’ teams in the state as its top seed, Forest Hills. The Tigers will face No. 8 Seacoast Christian in the quarterfinals. No. 4 Rangeley takes on two-time defending regional champion Greenville, the fifth seed, in another quarterfinal set for 11:30 a.m. on Feb. 16 at the ACC. Both teams have undergone significant lineup changes since they met in last year’s quarterfinals, when the then top-seeded Lakers (Greenville) beat the eighth-seeded Lakers (Rangeley),  56-22.

The state’s other top seeds in the boys’ tournament are:  Thornton Academy (AA South), Greely (A South), unbeaten Hermon (B North),  Central Aroostook (C North) and Woodland (D North).

State championships are set to begin with Class A on March 1 in Augusta. All other games will be played March 2, with classes B and AA playing in Portland and classes D and C meeting in Bangor.

Oxford Hills’ Cecelia Dieterich drives to the basket through Edward Little defenders, from left, Jade Perry, Hannah Chaput and Emily Piper during a January 18 game in Paris. Oxford Hills enters the Class AA North tournament as the top seed, while Edward Little is the fifth seed.

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