Members of the Hall-Dale gurls basketball team watch the action from the bench during a Feb. 6 game against Maranacook in Farmingdale. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal Buy this Photo

Boys and girls basketball teams in central Maine will have a postseason, after all.

Teams in Kennebec, Franklin and Somerset Counties will compete in a basketball tournament in early March, organizer Joel Stoneton — the athletic director at Winthrop High School — said Friday.

The tournament, which is not sanctioned by the Maine Principals’ Association, will fill a playoff void created when the state’s sports guidelines prohibited statewide competition this winter in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

“We decided about three or four weeks ago that we would try to pull something off, just to make it something to play for for the kids,” Stoneton said. “It’s not endorsed by anybody but a bunch of ADs who wanted to do something for their kids.”

The tournament will take place in the first two weeks of March, with preliminary rounds beginning the competition on March 2-3. Quarterfinals will be March 5-6, while semifinals will be March 9-10. The finals will be March 10-12.

Stoneton said that 23 teams in the region are participating, and they will be split into two brackets — Classes A/B in one and C/D in the other. Games will be played at the home of the higher seeds. Seeding will be determined by the teams’ performance this regular season.

Stoneton, who organized the schedule Friday, said that the response from athletic directors he contacted is almost entirely positive.

“It’s been, I would say, 100 percent ‘We want in,'” he said. “Everybody’s been on board. The only hesitation was just clarifying questions on how we were going to do certain logistics.”

Stoneton said the tournament will give both an incentive and a fitting finale for players and coaches.

Lawrence’s Hope Bouchard (32) drives to the hoop as Skowhegan’s Jaycie Christopher (3) during a Feb. 5 game in Fairfield. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

“I think it allows the kids something to play for, it puts some competitiveness to it,” he said. “One of my biggest motivations was, after watching the fall sports season, it was very clear, especially being part of the football committee, there was never any closure for some of these seniors. You never knew when it was going to end, you never knew that it was your last game.

“This is an opportunity to do that for the kids. I think, if there’s a chance to do that, then we should certainly do whatever works needs to be done to make that happen.”

Forest Hills boys coach Anthony Amero, whose team is the two-time defending Class D champion, said he was happy for the teams in the area.

“You’re seeing some cool things here. This is as close as we can come to having a sense of normalcy while still being respectful for those who have lost ones to COVID-19, or have suffered because of it,” he said. “It gives people something to look forward to.”

Amero said the tournament will provide needed competition.

“This makes it feel like the season wasn’t all for nothing,” he said. “We’ll have closure. It’s a chance to measure yourself. These are all positive things. I’m excited for the kids. Our guys are excited for it.”

Maranacook boys coach Travis Magnusson said the tournament will be a fitting replacement for the normal state championship.

“We’re extremely happy to have it,” he said. “This is going to be a great field of teams. We are absolutely treating this like a state championship. This isn’t just, hey, a little tournament at the end. … We’re very grateful they did this for everybody in central Maine.”

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