Winter weather pushes North boys basketball tourney races into overtime
It looks like Mother Nature is taking the high school basketball season to overtime.
Thursday’s snowstorm and even messier weather on Friday means numerous regular-season finales aren’t likely to be played until Saturday, leaving some tournament fates hanging in the balance.
Here’s a few issues still to be resolved as the weekend approaches:
Who’s on first? Defending state champion Bangor concluded its regular season Wednesday night with a 64-40 victory at Oxford Hills of South Paris, always a challenging road trip. The victory left the Rams in first place in Class AA North by 11 1/2 Heal Points over No. 2 Edward Little of Auburn, but EL still had its season-ending rivalry game at No. 4 Lewiston to play on Thursday night. Lewiston, perhaps the surprise team in the division, is 10-7 under first-year coach Ronnie Turner, and an EL victory over the Blue Devils might push the Red Eddies back past Bangor.
What seed would you prefer? Medomak Valley of Waldoboro was scheduled to visit Messalonskee of Oakland for the only time this season on Friday with third place in Class A North at stake. No. 3 Messalonskee (11-6) leads No. 4 Medomak Valley (14-3) by less than two points, with the winner to face No. 2 Cony of Augusta (14-4) in the quarters while the loser will play No. 5 Brewer (12-6). I’m not sure I want that fourth seed, with Brewer the winner of eight of its last 10 games and the only losses coming at No. 1 Hampden by one point and at Class AA Bangor by nine. Plus, the 4-5 quarterfinal winner likely will advance to play Hampden, which is undefeated against Class A foes this winter.
Last team in? Belfast moved into the final Class B North playoff slot Wednesday night as Jason Bartlett’s buzzer-beating, 3-pointer lifted coach Marty Messer’s Lions past Mount View of Thorndike 54-53 and into 12th place. But while Belfast is done at 10-8, its preliminary-round berth remains dependent on one other games. No. 13 Presque Isle (7-11) was unable to move up after losing to defending state champion Caribou (17-1) on Thursday, but another game to be concerned about sends No. 14 Old Town (8-9) to No. 10 Orono (7-10) at 1 p.m. Saturday. Old Town trails Belfast by five Heal Points and with a win would advance to the prelims.
To the victors go the byes: Two teams that have resided near the top of the Class C North standings throughout the winter have earned the lone byes accorded to the region’s most populated division. Central Aroostook (14-4) used back-to-back wins this week at the Panther Palace over Fort Kent and Van Buren to capture the top spot in the division for the second straight year. Dexter completed an 18-0 season with road wins at Central of Corinth and Bucksport to top Fort Kent for the No. 2 slot. Elsewhere in the division, Matt Rossignol’s return to the sidelines in Madawaska has proven successful as the Owls won four of their last five games to secure the 14th and final playoff position after No. 15 Piscataquis of Guilford fell at No. 6 Mattanawcook Academy of Lincoln 52-36 on Wednesday night.
Ode to the Royals? Top-ranked Jonesport-Beals has just one game left between itself and an undefeated regular season, but the 15-0 Royals will have to wait until 5:30 p.m. Saturday to host a makeup game against No. 7 Deer Isle-Stonington (12-5). Those teams had an entertaining encounter in Deer Isle on Jan. 7 with coach Skipper Alley’s club winning 79-63. Jonesport-Beals leads defending regional champion and second-ranked Schenck of East Millinocket by 18 points with the Wolverines having a rivalry game remaining at rival Stearns of Millinocket, No. 8 in Class C North.