on injured knee

Maine Central Institute junior guard Jonathan Santiago suffered a knee injury last week. Now coach Josh Tardy and the Huskies are waiting on the results of an MRI to learn the extent of the damage.

“It’s certainly day-to-day,” Tardy said. “We’re not optimistic he’ll be able to return this season.”

The Huskies miss Santiago’s presence, particularly on defense.

“He’s the heart and soul of our defensive effort,” Tardy said. “He wants to be out there. If he could, he’d be out hopping on one leg. He’s a leader off the court now. He’s right there.”

MCI is 3-9 under first-year coach Tardy, and the experience has been a good one, he said.

“It’s a testament to them being committed to improving as a team. No matter what the score is, we’re playing like it’s zero-zero,” Tardy said. “I’m having a blast with these kids, and it’s a pleasure to coach them.”

• • •

The Forest Hills boys and girls basketball teams made a rare overnight road trip earlier this week, playing games against Greater Portland Christian and Pine Tree Academy on Monday and Tuesday.

“It is a great bonding experience,” boys coach Anthony Amero said. “A lot of laughing and a lot of fun.”

The Tigers left Jackman at 7 a.m. Monday and drove to Saco to play Greater Portland Christian at XL Sports World. The teams stayed in a hotel near the Maine Mall in South Portland on Monday night, then toured Southern Maine Community College on Tuesday morning before playing Pine Tree Academy in Freeport. The teams arrived back home in Jackman around 8 p.m. Tuesday, each with two more wins.

At 13-1, the Forest Hills boys are in first place in the Western Class D standings. Even though the Tigers are the defending state champions and returned three starters, that record is a bit of a surprise, Amero said.

“We really feel like we haven’t played our best game,” Amero said. “We haven’t been able to click every night.”

As usual, Amero is stressing discipline to his team, particularly on defense, where the Tigers need to stay out of foul trouble. In recent games, Forest Hills is averaging just nine fouls per game.

“We’re not getting people getting foul shots on us,” Amero said.

Senior guard Nathan Jalbert, a new addition to the starting lineup this season, is improving as his playing time increases, Amero said. Jalbert scored nine points against Pine Tree Academy,

“He’s coming along. He was our seventh man last year,” Amero said.

• • •

Carrabec was winless last season, but second-year coach Kirk Robinson is seeing big improvement from the team this season. The Cobras are 3-11, and are just under five points out of the final playoff spot in Western Class C.

This season, the Cobras are able to push the ball up the court more regularly, and Robinson has been able to incorporate more into the team’s defensive game plan.

“We have more confidence with our defense,” Robinson said.

Offensively, Carrabec’s shooting percentage is up 10 percent from last season, Robinson said.

“It’s the shot selection the guys are looking for now, too. They’re not rushing anything,” Robinson said.

Senior point guard Boog Dunphy is doing a good job of setting Carrabec’s pace, and junior guard William Crawford is shooting well. In Monday’s 58-42 win over Telstar, Crawford was 3-for-6 from 3-point range.

Inside, senior post players Levi Murray and John Layman are playing well defensively, Robinson said.

“Together, they have around 100 rebounds this year,” Robinson said. “They’re boxing out and playing hard.”

Counting Thursday night’s game at Mt. Abram, Carrabec has four games left, and the Cobras have a shot at the playoffs. The big game is next Friday, when the Cobras host rival Madison.

“We need some (Heal) points. Madison is a must win,” Robinson said.

• • •

Around the state: Three teams have double digit leads in the regional Heal point standings this week. The largest lead in the state belongs to Hampden. The Broncos have a 48-point cushion in Eastern Class A over their nearest competition. Houlton in Eastern Class C (24.5 points) and Forest Hills in Western D (12.8 points) had the second and third-largest leads as of Wednesday. The tightest region in the state is Western Class A, where Portland held a slim .0925 point lead over second place Falmouth… Spruce Mountain has a seven game win streak, with five of those wins coming by at least 30 points… Undefeated Easton (13-0) has allowed more than 50 points just once this season.

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242tlazarczyk@centralmaine.comTwitter: @TLazarczykMTM