Gardiner’s Cody Dingwell looks to pass around the defense of Cony’s Elijah Klaiber-Parise during a Dec. 9 boys basketball game in Augusta. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

AUGUSTA — We’re still a ways from state tournament action at the Augusta Civic Center, but fans looking to watch some good high school basketball at the venue need not wait another two months for the playoffs.

Some great matchups are set to unfold at the Civic Center next week as the Capital City Hoops Classic tips off Dec. 27-28. The games feature teams from across multiple classes — and even some from outside of Maine — from early in the morning until late in the evening.

Day 1 features boys and girls games between Richmond and St. Dominic Academy, Nokomis and Erskine Academy, Cony and Messalonskee and Brewer and Mt. Blue. The Cony-Messalonskee boys matchup pits Rams head coach Isaiah Brathwaite against the team he coached this summer, and Brewer-Mt. Blue is a showdown of two of Class B North’s top teams.

Some even more intriguing matchups, though, come in the form of two scrimmages between Maine teams and out-of-state foes next Wednesday. Brathwaite’s Rams will take on Fenway High School out of Boston at 1:30 p.m., and Camden Hills will face Boston’s New Mission High School in the following game at 3.

“It’s going to be a great challenge for us. I don’t know much about them, but I imagine they’ll be super athletic, and that’ll give us a chance for our guys to test themselves a little bit,” Brathwaite said. “I think it’ll be a great game and a great chance for people to come together, bring their families and watch some great basketball.”

Other games at the Civic Center next Wednesday pit the Cony girls in a scrimmage against Freeport, the Hall-Dale boys against Mt. Abram, the Madison boys against Spruce Mountain and the Winthrop boys against Carrabec.



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Replacing a predecessor is never easy, but Brathwaite is certainly off to a great start at Cony.

Taking over for T.J. Maines, who resigned as head coach in October to become Cony’s new athletic director, Brathwaite, in his own words, is still “getting (his) feet wet.” Yet the results so far speak for themselves for Brathwaite and the Rams, who are off to a 3-0 start behind a balanced, efficient offense.

“Even three games into it, you’re still getting used to some parts of the job, but we have a great group of kids who get after it and hold each other accountable,” Brathwaite said. “We’re selfless; everybody plays for one another, and nobody cares who scores. It’s an all-around team effort.”


Cony’s Elijah Klaiber-Parise (22) shoots over Gardiner’s Brady Davidson during a Dec. 9 game in Augusta. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

Brathwaite’s tenure began with a rivalry win Dec. 9 as the Rams pounded Gardiner 76-37 in a game that saw four Cony players score 12 points or more. The Rams then bettered that offensive output four days later as they topped Erskine Academy 83-42 in South China.

A far bigger test, though, came as Cony headed back on the road Thursday to take on Mt. Blue in a battle of 2-0 teams. The Rams emerged victorious yet again as Parker Sergent scored a game-high 26 points to lead Cony to a 71-63 and propel the team to the top of the Class A North standings.

“That was a hard-fought win for us, and it was great for the guys and great for the morale of the team,” Brathwaite said. “They’re a great team, and it’s exciting when you can go up there and come back with a win.”

It was a win, Brathwaite said, in which Cony showed just how resilient it can be — and in a tough Class A North league, it’s the type of performance the Rams will need more of if they wish to contend with the premier teams.

“You learn something new about your team every time, and I think we really learned a lot from (that game),” Brathwaite said. “These kids are working hard, and we’re going to keep bringing that effort.”



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As far as tough leagues go, the Class C South girls field is right there with the best of them. Thus far, it’s been central Maine teams leading the way in that charge.

Six of the eight central Maine girls basketball teams in C South have started the season 2-0 or better. The area is 14-5 overall with all but one of the losses coming in matchups between local teams.

“We knew it was going to be a tough league, and so far, that’s absolutely been the case,” said Hall-Dale head coach O.J. Jaramillo. “I think you have a lot of teams that can really make some noise. There are no off nights.”

Hall-Dale is the reigning Class C champ after going undefeated a year ago. The 2-0 Bulldogs have looked strong once again in their first two games, beating a Carrabec team that went 15-3 last year 59-25 in the opener before beating Mountain Valley 65-36.


Winthrop has dominated en route to a 3-0 start with its closest win coming in a 65-29 victory over Telstar. Richmond is also 3-0 on the year with decisive victories over Temple Academy and Sacopee Valley and a 54-50 win over a Valley team fresh off a 14-2 season.

Joining Hall-Dale at 2-0 are Kents Hill, Madison and Monmouth Academy, the former of which is just one win away from matching last season’s win total. Carrabec is 0-2 after following the Hall-Dale loss with a defeat against Spruce Mountain, and Mt. Abram, which failed to finish the season a year ago, is 0-3.

Central Maine teams, though, are far from the only ones making Class C South such tough sledding. North Yarmouth Academy has looked every bit like the team it was expected to be with two wins by a combined 109 points, and Traip Academy, which knocked off Old Orchard Beach in its opener, has also caught Jaramillo’s eye.

“Traip is a team that has some really good size and three quick guards, and I think that win caught some people’s attention,” Jaramillo said. “Those southern Maine teams are really good, and they’re going to test us come tournament time.”

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