Mike McGee wasn’t sure what to expect when Lawrence High School honored him prior to Wednesday night’s game against Skowhegan. McGee knew one thing, he would honor the Rowdies.
“I’ve caught myself, some games, just looking at them and smiling,” McGee said.
Earlier this season, McGee announced he would retire as the boys basketball coach at Lawrence High School, a job he’s held for 29 seasons. The school honored McGee prior to Wednesday’s regular-season finale, presenting him a rocking chair. State Sen. Rodney Whittemore, who represents Senate District 26, which includes Fairfield, read a letter of thanks to McGee on behalf of the state legislature.
The Rowdies are the Lawrence student section. They sit directly across the Folsom Gymnasium court from the Lawrence bench. They’re one of the most boisterous student sections in the state, and McGee made it a point to thank them during Wednesday’s pregame ceremony.
After standing at midcourt and raising his arms in a salute to crowd, which included more than two dozen former Lawrence players and assistant coaches, McGee walked into the Rowdies section and gave the students a group hug.
The Rowdies were started in 1987 by Jeff Danz, a Lawrence student, and McGee said he wanted to thank the students for being an important part of the basketball program for two and a half decades.
“The Rowdies are such an advantage for us. I said, when I retire, I’m going to give them a hug and let them know how much they mean to me. I love our students,” McGee said.
Lawrence is 14-4 after its win against Skowhegan. With the regular season over, the Bulldogs will enter the Eastern A tournament as the No. 3 seed, and will face either Messalonskee or Brunswick in the quarterfinals, McGee said.
Junior guard Xavier Lewis, who missed the last five games of the regular season with mononucleosis, was able to attend Wednesday night’s game. Lewis’s return for the playoffs is still questionable, McGee said.
“He may practice next week,” McGee said.
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With a regular season record of 13-5, Waterville had its best regular season since 1999, when the Purple Panthers went 12-6.
Now, the Panthers’ goal is to win in the preliminary round and play in the regional quarterfinals at the Bangor Auditorium for the first time since 2001, when the team played in Class A.
The Panthers will host a preliminary round game in the Eastern B tournament, and after defeating Winslow on Thursday. Waterville’s seed depended on the winner of the Camden Hills-Oceanside game. If Oceanside won, Waterville would jump Camden Hills and take the No. 7 seed. If the Windjammers won, Waterville will be the No. 8 seed.
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Winslow played Thursday’s game without starting guard Connor Wildes, who suffered a sprained ankle Monday.
“He had X-rays. They’re all fine. Nothing broken,” Winslow coach Jared Browne said.
The Black Raiders (13-5) will host a preliminary round game, and Browne thinks they will be either the fourth or fifth seed in the Eastern B tournament. He expects Wildes will be ready for the playoffs.
“If all goes well, we’ll try and get him back Wednesday (for the prelims),” Browne said. “If not, he’s going to be playing in Bangor, if we get to Bangor.”
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Chris Braley, a former standout at Nokomis, announced via his Twitter feed Thursday that he’ll play his college basketball at Stony Brook University. Braley is a senior at Phillips Exeter Academy, a prep school in New Hampshire.
The 6-foot-4 Braley has helped the Big Red to an 18-1 record.
A member of the America East Conference, Stony Brook is 17-5, with an 8-1 record in America East play this season, good for first place in the conference.
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Erskine concluded its season Thursday night against Cony in a budding rivalry that is expected to end next season when the Eagles drop to Class B.
“It’s not a done deal but I don’t see any way we can’t,” Erskine coach Ben Willoughby said of his team’s drop from Class A to Class B. “I think B is a much better fit for us. We’ve been playing schools that are twice as big as us.”
After reaching the Class A tournament for the first time last season, the Eagles graduated eight seniors and have struggled this season at 2-15 going into Thursday night. But they’ve had their moments, one coming last Friday when they knocked off tournament bound Oxford Hills, 54-41
“It was a great effort,” Willoughby said. “Oxford Hills had beaten us at their place. Playing on our home floor we were able to hit a few more shots.”
The Eagles got a 3-pointer and a three-point play from sophomore Ryan Rodrigue to help ice the victory. Rodrigue was called up from the junior varsity about a third of the way through the season.
“He’s very quick,” Willoughby said. “He handles the ball well and he’s probably one of our better rebounders.”
The Eagles have relied on seniors Devin Duncan and Caleb McGuire to do most of the scoring this season. Duncan, a 5-foot-6 guard, carried most of the load in the early part of the season, scoring a season-high 28 points against Edward Little. His production has dropped as he’s drawn more attention.
“The first half of the season teams were guarding him straight up,” Willoughby said. “In the last half, guys are leaving their men and double- or sometimes triple-teaming him. Devin’s done a good job of not forcing shots.”
McGuire, who is 6-6, has taken up some of the scoring slack for Duncan over the second half, averaging double figures with a couple of games over 20 points thrown in.
“He’s just really applied himself,” Willoughby said. “Even though he’s 6-6 he’s not scoring all his points under the basket. He’s a tough matchup. If you put a big guy on him, he’s able to go by. And he’s able to post up a smaller player.”
The Eagles are once again graduating eight players as they prepare for their move to Class B.
“We’re graduating all of our size, but we will be very quick,” Willoughby said.
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With Tuesday’s win over Greenville, Forest Hills earned an undefeated record at home for the first time in school history, coach Anthony Amero said.
“We’ve gone undefeated on the road before, but never at home,” Amero said.
The Tigers (16-2) were two points from an undefeated season. Both loses were by one point, 54-53 at rival Valley, and 58-57 at North Haven.
“Any time (the game) is under five points, it’s coaching,” Amero said. “I’ll probably be hearing about those game 20 years from now at a reunion.”
Gary Hawkins contributed to this report.
Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242