Maranacook faces its toughest test of the Western Maine Class C boys basketball tournament Saturday when it takes on third-seeded Waynflete (17-3) and center Serge Nyirikamba.
The fifth-seeded Black Bears (15-5) will also have to contend with a swarming Flyers zone defense.
The 6-foot-3 Nyirikamba has proven it difficult to defend his spinning moves around the basket. He scored 26 points and grabbed 16 rebounds in a quarterfinal win against Monmouth and had 28 points and 10 boards in the semifinals against Hall-Dale.
Maranacook coach Rob Schmidt said he will likely start sophomore Kent Mohlar on Nyirikamba but he’ll have some help.
“We’ve just got to play him real tough and especially box him out,” Schmidt said.
The Bears have a prolific scorer of their own in Taylor Wilbur, who scored 34 points in the quarterfinals, including eight 3-pointers, and 21 in the semis. Wilbur got plenty of help in Thursday’s semifinal win against Dirigo as junior Cam Brochu scored 24 points and Mohlar added 19.
“I’d say they’re as athletic as any team I’ve had,” said Schmidt, who coached the Black Bears to Class B state titles in 2006 and 2008.
The Flyers played man-to-man defense in their win against Monmouth, but their zone has been their bread and butter defense throughout the year.
“You saw the way they were able to communicate and get in passing lanes,” Waynflete coach Rich Henry said following Thursday’s win. “As long as they can do that, I’m comfortable playing zone. It all stems from the leadership of Henry Cleaves in the back of that zone, communicating and telling people where they need to be.”
The Flyers’ zone can slow the pace of a game but they’re willing to push the ball when they can and have some quick guards and three-point shooters in Milo Belleau and Harry Baker-Connick.
“They’ve got a lot of weapons,” Schmidt said. “They’re not afraid to run and we’re not afraid to run. It could be a pretty high-scoring game.”