There are a couple of wild cards in the Western Maine Class C boys tournament which begins today at the Augusta Civic Center.
But if you’re looking for a safe bet, top-seeded Dirigo is a solid choice. The Cougars lost just their final game to Class B Spruce Mountain, then avenged that the following week with a 22-point win in the conference championship game.
“They’re a very compete team,” Madison coach Mike Packard said. “You’ve got to figure them the favorite, but who knows in the tournament.”
Dirigo returns the nucleus of the team that won the regional title last year. The greatest difference with the Cougars is coach Travis Magnusson, who was with Livermore Falls last year.
“We get up and down more,” Magnusson said. “We’ve really focused on running the lanes and playing a little more pressure defense.”
Dirigo senior Cody St. Germain averaged 20 points and nine rebounds a game and was named Mountain Valley Conference Player of the Year. Ben Holmes gives the Cougars another inside threat while Josh Turbide, Caleb Turner and point guard Travis Frost can all run.
“They’re a clear No. 1,” Waynflete coach Rich Henry said. “It’s going to take someone playing pretty well to beat them.”
Second-seeded Waynflete and No. 6 Old Orchard Beach are the two wild cards since both play in the Western Maine Conference. Waynflete, which beat Old Orchard twice during the regular season, returns a number of players left from last year’s tournament team, including point guard Jack Cutler, Max Bellow and Mitch Newlin.
“They’re big and they’re strong,” Hall-Dale coach Jim Patrick said. “Four out of the five play above the rim.”
Waynflete drew Wiscasset in the opening round while Dirigo plays Sacopee Valley, which went 6-13 this season.
“We’ve got eight kids that score between six and nine points a game,” Henry said.
Sophomore Serge Nyirikamba, who Henry said didn’t play that much last season, leads the team in scoring at 10 points per game. Wiscasset likes to play pressure defense led by Jordan Jones, Devin Grover and Caleb Bryant.
The matchup between No. 4 Hall-Dale and No. 5 Madison could be a good one although Hall-Dale won the regular-season meeting in Madison 66-50. Patrick, who plays 10 players regularly and rotates four every four minutes, plans to run and press.
“It takes a lot of people,” he said.
Like Waynflete, Hall-Dale has a number of players averaging between seven and 10 points a game, including Sam and Brad Shepherd, Austin Bechard, Zac Plummer and Mike Woods. Austin Kane led Madison at 16.7 a game and also made 49 3-pointers this season.
“We’ve got a pretty decent bench,” Packard said. “We have to be a lot more patient offensively than we have been.”
Old Orchard faces No. 3 Boothbay, which features one of the tournament’s top players in point guard Anthony DiMauro and a good scorer in forward Ben Dickinson. Old Orchard is led by forward Quincy Grace and guard Andrew Fleury.
Gary Hawkins — 621-5638