Thornton Academy’s Dylan Griffin averages 13.7 points and led Class AA South with 10.3 rebounds per game. Brianna Soukup/Portland Press Herald Buy this Photo

Expect points to be at a premium in Saturday’s Class A and AA boys basketball championship games at Cross Insurance Arena.

It’s not because the regional champions lack offensive firepower. In fact, all four teams — Edward Little and Thornton Academy in Class AA, York and Hampden Academy in Class A — have at least one superior offensive player.

Rather, all the teams have demonstrated the ability to lock down defensively, scores tend to go down in championship games, and the last time Edward Little and Hampden were at CIA for state title games (2018), none of the teams cracked 50 points.

“It’s a struggle to score in these games,” Edward Little coach Mike Adams said. “We’ll take things away. They’ll take things away. We’re both good defensive teams and the kids will be nervous.”

In Class B, Caribou (20-1) will try to defend its title against Maranacook (19-2) on Friday night in Bangor.

Saturday at the Augusta Civic Center, Winthrop (20-1) plays Dexter (21-0) in Class C and Forest Hills (21-0) meets Machias (12-8) in Class D. Winthrop and Forest Hills also are defending champions.

Class AA: Thornton Academy (18-3) vs. Edward Little (19-2)
Saturday, 9:05 p.m., Cross Insurance Arena, Portland

If you’re a fan of big guys who still post up, then enjoy watching junior Dylan Griffin of Thornton Academy and sophomore John Shea of Edward Little bang away. Plus, both are probably itching to play well after sub-par efforts in the regional finals.

Shea, who led Class AA North in scoring this season (16.8 points per game), was held to four points on 2-of-11 shooting against Deering. Griffin, who averages 13.7 points and led AA South with 10.3 rebounds per game, had six points on 3-of-12 shooting and fouled out in the fourth quarter of Thornton’s overtime win against South Portland.

Edward Little’s John Shea, middle, drives to the basket between Oxford Hills’ Isaiah Oufiero, left, and Elias Soehren, right, during a January game in Auburn. Shea, a sophomore, led Class AA North in scoring this season with 16.8 points per game. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

Also keep an eye on how well Edward Little can contain Thornton junior Payton Jones, who is at his best when he’s running the court creating opportunities for teammates. In Thornton’s 66-49 win at home against EL in the second game of the season, “Jones was just a beast in transition,” Adams said.

In the North final, Edward Little senior Austin Brown was able to lock down Deering’s top offensive threat, Askar Hussein.

Both teams also showed they can get significant contributions from reserves. Thornton senior Will Mitchell scored nine key points and helped pick up the rebounding slack with Griffin in foul trouble against South Portland and had 12 points in the semifinal win against Bonny Eagle.

Edward Little uses its bench fluidly throughout the game, making offense-defense substitutions at every opportunity.

Thornton will be going for its first state title since beating Edward Little in the 2009 Class A final. Edward Little won the 2018 final 41-36 against Scarborough.

Class A: York (21-0) vs. Hampden Academy (20-1)
Saturday, 3:05 p.m., Cross Insurance Arena, Portland

Brady Cummins of York lays the ball up after getting past Emmett Hamilton of Falmouth. Derek Davis/Portland Press Herald Buy this Photo

York coach Paul Marquis is very familiar with Hampden Academy’s 6-foot-4 point guard Bryce Lausier, a 2019 Varsity Maine All-State pick and Mr. Maine Basketball finalist. He is averaging 26.3 points per game.

“I’ve been following Bryce since he was just a little guy,” Marquis said. That’s because Marquis and Lausier’s father, Chris, were three-sport teammates at Fort Kent High School, Chris Lausier graduating in 1989 and Marquis the next year.

Lausier can “score at all three levels,” Hampden coach Russ Bartlett said. “He shoots 60 percent on 2-point attempts, 40 percent on 3s and has over 100 assists and is our leading rebounder.”

Lausier was clutch in the North regional and Hampden needed it. The Broncos’ three wins came by a total of seven points.

“Hampden is really strong in all aspects,” Marquis said. “They defend really well. They have size at all their positions. Lausier is as good as they come.”

York counters with its top two scorers, junior Brady Cummins (18.5 points) and senior Will MacDonald (17.1 points, 9.4 rebounds). Both can finish at the rim or step outside and shoot the 3.

Hampden Academy point guard Bryce Lausier is averaging 26.3 points per game. The senior is one of three finalists for the Mr. Maine Basketball award. Kennebec Journal photo by Andy Molloy Buy this Photo

Senior guard Jonathan Donovan scored the winning basket in the waning seconds to eliminate three-time state champ Greely in the semifinals and then scored 11 second-half points when the Wildcats squashed Falmouth 52-34 in the regional final.

“They have a lot of weapons. They have a lot of guys who can do a lot of different things,” said Falmouth coach David Halligan after the South final. “Their bigs can play like guards and their guards can shoot. … They were just too athletic for us.”

If York wins its first state title since 1991 (in Class B), Marquis will join his father as a championship basketball coach. Lester Marquis directed the Allagash girls team to Class D titles in 1976 and 1977. Paul Marquis does have one state title on his coaching resume: the 2006 Traip Academy boys soccer team.

Hampden won the 2015 Class A title, routing Portland.


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