The Hall-Dale High School girls basketball team is riding a five-game winning streak, and coach Brandon Terrill said the team is playing “high quality basketball.”

They’ll have to, they are the defending Class C state champs.

“We take some of the pressure off by not looking at the big picture,” said Terrill, whose team went 15-3 and earned the top seed in Western C. “It makes it easier. But we’ve had a target on our backs all season. We’ve got everybody’s close games. We’ve had some close games and we’ve had some success in those games. I like my team heading in.”

The high school basketball state tournaments get under way this week, beginning with preliminary round games Tuesday and Wednesday.

By Friday, teams across the state will converge on Portland, Bangor and Augusta for the start of the regional quarterfinal.

The Eastern A quarterfinals begin Friday at the Augusta Civic Center. The Cony girls (18-0) earned the top seed and will play either No. 8 Brewer (9-9) or No. 9 Bangor (7-11) at 8:30 p.m. Friday.

No. 5 Messalonskee (13-5) will play No. 4 Mt. Ararat (12-6) at 7 p.m. Friday.

Meanwhile, Hall-Dale will play the winner of No. 8 Dirigo (8-10) and No. 9 St. Dominic (7-11) in a quarterfinal game Feb. 21 at 8:30 p.m. in the Augusta Civic Center.

“We’re going to go check out Dirigo and St. Dom’s and then put a plan together for the quarterfinals,” Terrill said.

Hall-Dale will scrimmage Messalonskee on Wednesday.

In Eastern B boys action, No. 6 Nokomis (13-5) will play No. 11 Waterville (10-8) in a prelim game Wednesday. The winner will move to Bangor to face No. 3 Gardiner (16-2) at 5 p.m. Friday.

“Nokomis and Waterville played us tough,” Gardiner coach Jason Cassidy said. “We’ve scouted everybody. We’ll put some game plans together and be ready to go.”

The Gardiner girls (15-3) need to play a prelim game for the second consecutive year to reach the Bangor Auditorium. The Tigers defeated Old Town before losing to top-seed Presque Isle in the quarterfinals last season.

This season, Gardiner hopes to stick around a little longer. The Tigers hosts No. 13 Foxcroft Academy (5-13) in a prelim game Tuesday.

“We have 15 wins,” Gardiner coach Mike Gray said, “and we knew 16 would get us to Bangor. We’ll have to play one extra game and hopefully we can take care it. As long as we get there. How we get there just doesn’t matter.”

Gray said the tournament experience last season should pay off this year.

“Having been through this last year is a big piece for us,” he said. “We had to win a prelim game to get there, and we did. When we got to Bangor, we were a little overwhelmed. We needed to go through that. That won’t happen this year. We put ourselves in a good spot.”

So, too, did the Richmond girls.

The defending Western D champs will once again enter postseason play as the top seed.

The Bobcats (16-1) will play either No. 8 Valley (5-13) or No. 9 Buckfield (4-14) in a quarterfinal game Feb. 22 in Augusta at 11:30 a.m.

The Eastern A boys tournament in Augusta could be as wide open as any regional in the state.

No. 3 Mt. Blue (14-4) will play No. 6 Brunswick (11-7) at 4 p.m. Saturday. No. 4 Lawrence (12-6) will play No. 5 Bangor (13-5) at 8 p.m. Saturday .

No. 8 Cony (7-11) and No. 9 Erskine (7-11) will play a prelim game at 7 p.m. Wednesday for the right to face top-seeded Hampden (17-1) in a quarterfinal game at 9:30 p.m. Saturday.

“Between the two teams you can flip a coin,” said Cony coach Tim Bonsant, who teaches U.S. history at Erskine. “It’ll be 50-50 Wednesday night. It should be a great game.”

The teams split their two regular season meetings.

Bill Stewart — 621-5640

bstewart@centralmaine.com