High schools preparing for scaled-down regional basketball playoffs
By Ernie Clark, Bangor Daily News Staff
Basketball season isn’t the same this year with no fans and no statewide tournament due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
But teams have made it to the final week of an abbreviated 12-game regular season, and plans have been made for regionalized postseason playoffs during the first two weeks of March that will produce at least local bragging rights.
When the Maine Principals’ Association pushed back the start of the regular season to mid-January, it indicated an interest in providing boys and girls basketball teams a postseason opportunity similar to regionalized soccer playoffs held last fall in Aroostook County and the Penquis region.
Athletic administrators from schools in the various regional basketball pods created around northern, eastern and central Maine have worked to create playoff formats to add to the competitive aspect of this unique season.
Tentative schedules have been developed with seedings for each pod’s playoffs based on regular-season performances. Postseason games within each pod will be played on the home courts of the higher-seeded teams.
Plans call for the four Class AA and A schools nearest Bangor to compete for their pod championships, while eight Class B schools in the area will vie for similar crowns, with the pod champions then squaring off for an overall title.
Bangor, Brewer, Hampden Academy and Nokomis of Newport make up the big-school division, while Ellsworth, Foxcroft Academy of Dover-Foxcroft, Hermon, John Bapst of Bangor, Mount Desert Island of Bar Harbor, Old Town, Orono and Washington Academy of East Machias comprise the Class B division.
Class B quarterfinals are scheduled for March 2, followed by semifinals in both divisions on March 5, pod championships on March 9 and the AA-A/B championship games on Friday, March 12.
The Penobscot Valley Conference will feature boys and girls competition in two pods for Classes C-D playoffs that will be capped off when the Penquis and Penobscot pod champions meet on March 9 at sites to be determined.
Penquis pod teams are Central of Corinth, Dexter, Greenville, Penquis Valley of Milo and Piscataquis of Guilford. Penobscot pod teams are Bangor Christian, Lee Academy (boys only), Mattanawcook Academy of Lincoln, Penobscot Valley of Howland, Schenck of East Millinocket and Stearns of Millinocket.
The top two seeds in each pod will receive first-round byes, with opening-round games set for March 1, semifinals on March 3 and pod championship and consolation games on March 5.
Fifteen Aroostook League schools will play off in two divisions.
Division I has eight schools from Classes B and C: Caribou, Central Aroostook of Mars Hill, Fort Fairfield, Fort Kent, Hodgdon, Houlton, Madawaska (boys only) and Presque Isle.
Seven Class D programs, Ashland, Easton, Katahdin of Stacyville, Southern Aroostook of Dyer Brook, Van Buren, Washburn and Wisdom of Saint Agatha, will compete in Division 2.
The No. 1 seeds in Division 1 girls and Division 2 boys and girls will receive quarterfinal byes.
Boys quarterfinals are slated for March 2 with girls quarters on March 3. Semifinals are slated for March 4 (boys) and March 5 (girls), with the finals on March 8 (boys) and March 9 (girls).
The Division 1 and 2 boys champions will square off on March 10, with the County girls final on March 11.
At least five Midcoast schools are expected to participate March 4-9 in a Kno-Wal-Lin (Knox, Waldo and Lincoln counties) COVID basketball championship tournament.
Participating schools are Belfast, Camden Hills of Rockport, Mount View of Thorndike, Medomak Valley of Waldoboro and Oceanside of Rockland. Boothbay has not yet determined if it will compete in the event, while Lincoln Academy of Newcastle has opted out.
The opening round is scheduled for March 4, with the top two seeds earning a bye.
Semifinals follow on March 6, with the Kno-Wal-Lin championship games on March 9.
A Down East pod championship event during the week of March 8 is expected to involve Calais, Woodland, Shead of Eastport, Machias, Jonesport-Beals and Narraguagus of Harrington. Officials at those schools plan to meet next week to work out the details.
Twenty-two schools from Franklin, Kennebec and Somerset counties will participate in a regional event set for March 2-12.
The schools will be divided into A-B and C-D divisions, with preliminary round games March 2-3, quarterfinals March 5-6, semifinals March 9-10 and championship games March 10-12.
The 11 A-B schools are Cony of Augusta, Erskine Academy of South China, Gardiner, Lawrence of Fairfield, Maine Central Institute of Pittsfield, Maranacook of Readfield, Messalonskee of Oakland, Mt. Blue of Farmington, Skowhegan, Waterville and Winslow.
C-D entries are Carrabec of North Anson, Forest Hills of Jackman (boys only), Hall-Dale of Farmingdale, Madison, Monmouth Academy, Mount Abram of Salem (boys only), Rangeley (girls only), Spruce Mountain of Jay, Temple Academy of Waterville (boys only), Valley of Bingham and Winthrop.