Friday, April 25, 2014
A new champion will come out of the Eastern Maine Class B boys basketball tournament, although there's no clear favorite among the eight remaining teams.
"Any team left is capable," Waterville coach Jason Briggs said. "It's a very balanced field."
The Eastern B tournament begins at 8 tonight, when No. 6 Winslow (14-5) takes on No. 3 Mt. Desert Island (15-3). The quarterfinals continue at 9:05 a.m. Saturday, when No. 7 Waterville (14-5) plays No. 2 Presque Isle (15-3). No 13 Foxcroft Academy (9-10) takes on No. 5 Caribou (14-5) at 1:35 p.m. The quarterfinal round ends with No. 8 Camden Hills (13-6) against No. 1 Medomak Valley (16-2) at 4:35 p.m.
The hottest team in the field is Waterville. The Purple Panthers have a dozen wins in a row, including the biggest rout of the preliminary round, a 75-33 win over Old Town. This is Waterville's first trip to the regional quarterfinals since 2001, when the Panthers played in Class A.
Waterville played at Presque Isle in December, but Briggs said that game was too long ago to glean much from the result.
"We saw Presque Isle in the preseason, but the preseason means nothing," Briggs said.
The Panthers have five players with the potential to score in double figures. Chris Hale, a first-team all-KVAC selection, Jordan DeRosby, Justin Jabar, J.P. Michaud and Josh Gormley.
Presque Isle is led by 6-foot-5 senior Tyler Brooks and guard Jonah Stephenson. Karson Eaton is a shooting threat for the Wildcats. In a 60-47 win over Caribou in the regular season finale, Eaton made six 3-pointers and scored 21 points.
For Winslow, the challenge in playing Mt. Desert Island is defending the Trojans forwards, led by seniors Ben Walls and Adam Gray. Junior Jon Phelps runs the point for MDI.
"They've got some really big guys," Winslow coach Jared Browne said. "They go 6-5, 6-6, 6-7. We've got to make sure we box out. Their guards are pretty good shooters, pretty good ballhandlers. We've got to keep them out of the middle."
Winslow is an athletic team that has excelled all season scoring in transition. Guards Trevor Lovely, Connor Wildes and Nason Lanphier, along with forwards Austin Ireland and Justin Martin, are each capable of scoring. Ireland scored 20 points and grabbed 19 rebounds in the Black Raiders win over Washington Academy on Wednesday.
"They get up and down the floor exceptionally well," MDI coach Justin Norwood said.
Camden Hills lost a pair of close game to Medomak Valley in the regular season, including a 95-91, four overtime thriller in late January. Since losing at Winslow on Jan. 8, Medomak Valley has won nine games in a row. John Murray, the Panthers' big man, earned conference Player of the Year honors.
Caribou and Foxcroft played once in the regular season, with Caribou taking a 71-51 win. Foxcroft is coming off a big upset win over No, 4 Oceanside in the preliminary round. Senior Ryan Rebar scored 21 points in the win for the Ponies.
In Caribou's 47-43 prelim win over Hermon, Cody Herbet led the Vikings with 12 points, while Dayne Savage and Matt Milliard each scored 11.
Travis Lazarczyk -- 861-9242