The regular season ends this week and many teams are jockeying for tournament positions. One of those is Gardiner, which ends its regular season tonight against Medomak Valley in Waldoboro.
The Tigers are currently ninth in Eastern Maine Class B and, if they stay there, will have to play a prelim game on the road next week against the No. 8 team, which is currently Camden Hills. A win against Medomak doesn’t necessarily assure the Tigers of a home prelim since wins by teams that Camden and Gardiner have already beaten enter into the equation.
“There’s a slim chance we could finish eighth,” Gardiner coach Mike Gray said.”I think we’re going to finish ninth, but eight or 10 is a possibility.”
Gardiner crushed Medomak 62-24 when the teams meet early in the season in Gardiner. The Panthers have since improved and are an identical 10-7 with the Tigers and are two places higher in the standings.
“It was one of those nights,” Gray said of the win. “We played great. It shouldn’t have been as lopsided as it was. Since then they really took off.”
The Tigers are coming off a pair of losses, 52-51 on a last second shot to Maranacook and 47-38 against unbeaten Nokomis.
“We feel like we played two really good games in a row with nothing to show for it,” Gray said. “Overall we’ve come a long way. We have so many new pieces in place this year. Our turnovers are down, we’re playing under control and we’re starting to play better defense.”
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There’s plenty at stake Thursday night when Kents Hill travels to Richmond. The teams met earlier in the season with Kents Hill winning 39-29. The Huskies, who finish their season Friday against Hebron, are in ninth place in Western Maine Class C. A win Thursday would likely move them to eighth and give them a home prelim game.
“I’m sure they’re going to want some revenge,” Kents Hill coach Luke Wamboldt said. “I’m sure they’re going to be ready for us.”
Richmond is in sixth place in Western Maine Class D and could avoid a prelim game with a win.
“They have some height,” Richmond coach Molly Bishop said. “Containing the Grenier girl is probably our bigger issue.”
Bishop was referring to Kents Hill senior Sara Grenier, the team’s point guard who averages just over 19 points a game. They’ll also have to contend with 5-foot-11 guard Ashley Doyle and 6-1 center Emma Curnin.
The Bobcats are young but improving. Sophomore Kelsea Anair is one of the team’s top all-around players. The 5-9 forward is a strong rebounder and a good shooter who scores inside and out. She will be one of the primary defenders on Curnin.
“She’s not afraid to go up against anybody,” Bishop said.
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Maranacook finished its regular season Tuesday with a win at Morse. The Black Bears are in second place in Western Maine Class C and will avoid a prelim game that teams 3 through 14 are required to play.
“I think that’s a good thing for us,” Maranacook coach Jeannine Paradis said. “I want us to get to the Augusta Civic Center floor as easily as we can.”
Paradis and Spruce Mountain coach Gavin Kane have set up a scrimmage next week since both teams will get a bye to the tournament.
The Black Bears will be without the services of 5-11 forward Elizabeth DiAngelo for the tournament since she is taking a class trip to Spain. Sarah Clough is expected to take DiAngelo’s place while Sage Hyland will fill in for Clough at the small forward position.
“Sarah Clough has come a long way for us defensively,” Paradis said. “Offensively, she’s giving us what we need.”
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Despite a winless record this season, first-year Winthrop coach Joe Burnham believes his program has made significant progress.
“We kept everybody throughout the entire season which was pretty positive,” Burnham said. “We got some program continuity going and we did a lot of stuff with our youth.”
Burnham, who was hired last May, plans a more ambitious summer schedule that will include a team camp and a tournament.
“We are going to be a little more aggressive this summer to gain some experience because that’s what we’re lacking,” he said.
One of Burnham’s short-term goals is to bring back a junior varsity team. There are several players in the feeder system, especially below the eighth grade level. Former players have stopped by to help in practice and Burnham said there is strong community support for the program. He doesn’t expect a miraculous turnaround but points out the boys program was down just three years ago.