AUGUSTA — The best team all season was the best team in the tournament, once again.

No. 1 Forest Hills won its third straight regional title, riding 28 points from tournament MVP Mason Desjardins and 20 from Braidan Welch to a 78-38 victory over No. 2 Valley in the Class D South boys basketball final at the Augusta Civic Center on Saturday.

The undefeated Tigers (21-0) will get a chance to win their third straight state title Saturday when they take on Southern Aroostook, which beat Machias for the North title.

“It definitely doesn’t get old,” Desjardins said. “It feels good to get back here after last year, not having it. It was one of our goals, to get back here, and now we’re back in a state championship again.”

Valley (12-5), led by eighth graders Harry Lewis (nine points) and Fisher Tewksbury (eight), returned to the South final for the first time since 2016, but again couldn’t keep up with the Tigers’ intensity and pace. The Cavaliers lost both regular-season games to the Tigers by an average of 48 points.

“I couldn’t be happier with our boys,” Valley coach Mike Staples said. “When you look at the scheme of the whole season, we had a great season. We went far and above what I thought we’d do this year.”


In a sense, so did the Tigers. Forest Hills faced the prospect this season of playing without 2,000-point scorer Parker Desjardins, but quickly proved as the season progressed that the program hadn’t skipped a beat.

On Saturday, the Tigers were as dominant as ever.

“I was glad that our kids showed up ready to play,” coach Anthony Amero said. “You could see, we had really good energy from the get-go.”

Forest Hills’ trademark frenzied offense and defense was effective early, piling on the points and getting the Tigers out to a quick lead. Forest Hills was able to goad the Cavaliers into trying to match its speed, and Valley committed 12 turnovers in the first quarter and 13 more in the second as the Tigers opened up leads of 18-7 after the first quarter and 42-23 at the half.

“Our whole goal was to try to slow the ball down,” Staples said. “We knew we can’t run with them on a steady basis. … But we’ve got a lot of young kids. Most of them are thoroughbreds, and they want to run.”

Forest Hills undid those plans, with Welch (seven steals) leading the relentless pressure.


Forest Hills’ Blaine Nadeau (2) battles for the rebound with Valley’s Kristian Jacques (14) during the Class D South boys basketball championship game Saturday at the Augusta Civic Center. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

“I don’t see a team that can slow you down when you have Braidan Welch on the floor,” Amero said. “I’ve been coaching 25 years in Jackman and 32 years overall, I’ve never coached a kid, boy or girl, that can motor like that kid.”

Welch, who had four steals in the first quarter alone, was also the spark of the Tigers’ shooting attack. He hit three 3-pointers in the first quarter, keying a 16-2 run that took the Tigers to the end of the period, and he hit two more in the second for 17 first-half points.

From the second quarter on, Desjardins took off. He took over in transition, notching six steals in the period alone, and scored 13 points to give him 18 at the break. He scored seven more points in the third quarter as Forest Hills mounted a 56-27 lead.

Jackman Daigle scored 15 points and Blaine Nadeau, the team’s lone freshman, added 11 for the Tigers.



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