The high school basketball season starts on Friday. Two-hundred seventy-five basketball teams will begin play in the coming days, with the goal of being one of the 16 girls or boys teams playing for a gold ball on Feb. 27 and 28.

Here are a few tidbits to help get you ready for the season:

• The Forest Hills boys and girls basketball teams open the season with one of the longest road trips in the state. The trip from Jackman to Vinalhaven is certainly the longest in the East/West Conference, and the teams have opened the season against each other for years. Last winter, Vinalhaven made the trip north for the Friday night/Saturday morning games.

The Tigers have a 150 mile bus ride from Jackman to Rockland, then a 15 mile ferry ride to Vinalhaven.

“We’ll leave at 8 in the morning,” Forest Hills athletic director and boys basketball coach Anthony Amero said.

• A great early opening night matchup in the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference has the Messalonksee boys playing at Mt. Ararat

in Topsham. The game features two of the best players in the state, Messalonskee senior Nick Mayo, who will play his college basketball at Eastern Kentucky University next season, and Mt. Ararat’s Shy Ulrickson, a junior.

• Three area teams begin defense of a regional title this weekend. The Forest Hills girls are at Vinalhaven on Friday in a Western Class D game, while the Valley boys open on Friday at Buckfield, also a Western D contest.

The Carrabec girls wait until Saturday until the begin their run as defending Western Class C champs. The Cobras host Mt. Abram on Saturday night.

• The Winslow and Maine Central Institute boys basketball teams got a late start to full team workouts in the preseason, because each had a team playing in a state championship football game. The first week of basketball practice overlapped with the state championship week this season, and the Black Raiders and Huskies spent early practices without a full basketball squad. How, if at all, will that affect them as they begin the season?

“We really had no preseason,” Winslow head coach Jared Browne said. “But our guys are smart. We’ve got eight veteran players back from last year. They’re intelligent players. They’re going to pick stuff up quickly.”

Winslow hosts Maranacook, while MCI hosts Waterville on Friday night.

• Speaking of Waterville, the Purple Panthers are just one of a few are teams with a new head coach. Nick Pelotte takes over at Waterville. Other first-year boys basketball head coaches include Kevin Main (Mt. Blue), Jason Furbush (Madison), and Heath Cowan (Mt. Abram).

New girls basketball coaches include Mitch Donar (Erskine), Larry Donald (Mt. Abram), and Gavin Kane (Mt. Blue). Kane, of course, is no stranger to high school basketball, winning six state titles as head girls coach at Dirigo.

• Temple Academy of Waterville joins the Maine Principals Association this season. Temple will compete in Western Class D, and opens the season on Monday at home with a girls/boys doubleheader against Greater Portland Christian.

• The most crowded region in the state this season is boys and girls Eastern Class D, with 22 teams. Boys and girls Eastern Class A is the smallest, with just 13 teams in each.

Staff writer Randy Whitehouse contributed to this story.

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM

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