In 2009, the Capital City Hoop Classic responded to a Maine Principals’ Association rule on countable dates by having some of the tournament games be countable regular season games. That continues this year, highlighted by a much-anticipated boys matchup between Winthrop and Dirigo.

“It’s four regular season games, girls and boys, same day,” Cony coach T.J. Maines said. “It should be a fun day. We’re hoping it’s going to be a great turnout, and continue to kind of pick it back up with our tournament, and make it a marquee event.”

The Classic used to run over multiple days, but instead will feature about 12 straight hours of basketball on Saturday at the Augusta Civic Center. The first four games count in the Heal points standings: Madison vs. Mountain Valley girls at 10 a.m., Winthrop-Dirigo boys at 11:30, Cony-Oxford Hills girls at 1 p.m., and Cony-Oxford Hills boys at 2:30.

The last four games will not count in the Heal points standings, but will determine the Classic’s champions and final standings. The losers of the first two girls games play at 4 p.m., followed by the losers of the first two boys games at 5:30. Assuming everything is still on schedule, the winners of the first two girls games will play for the championship at 7, and the boys championship will be at 8:30. Tickets are expected to be $10 for an all-day pass.

The first girls matchup is a good one, as Madison comes in at 4-3 after Tuesday’s overtime loss to Hall-Dale, while Mountain Valley is 2-3. That record is a little deceiving, as Mtn. Valley lost close games to undefeated Boothbay and Oak Hill, and owns a 10-point victory over defending regional champion Carrabec.

Madison coach Al Veneziano didn’t seem overly concerned with playing a game at 10 a.m.

“You’ve got to remember, we played a (Western C) tournament game last year at 8:30 in the morning,” Veneziano said. “Playing at different times, I don’t think is a bad thing.”

Veneziano said the biggest benefit to Saturday is the chance to play at the Civic Center, which is also the site of the Western C tournament.

“Anytime you can get on the Civic Center floor and play two games, it’s a great benefit to the younger players on the team who haven’t played on the Civic Center floor,” Veneziano said. “We’re very fortunate to be asked to be in a tournament like that.”

The Winthrop boys are 6-0 and No. 2 in the Western C Heal points, while Dirigo (5-1) is in the third spot. Dirigo’s only loss was to No. 1 Boothbay, by six points on the road. Jacob Hickey, Matt Sekerak, and Dakota Carter have all been consistent scorers for the Ramblers.

The game was originally scheduled for Winthrop, but like Veneziano, Winthrop coach Todd MacArthur likes the idea of getting experience with this team at the Civic Center.

“In my mind, we get to play two extra games on that floor,” MacArthur said. “I thought the value of playing on that floor was something that we couldn’t pass up.”

Since that loss to Boothbay on opening night, the Cougars have won five straight — all by at least 25 points — and are averaging 79.2 points per game. Dirigo’s big scorer is junior Riley Robinson.

“First off, Dirigo is phenomenal,” MacArthur said. “They’re a top team in our conference. They have been for a long time. They’re talented from top to bottom. They’re well-coached. They mix up their defensive schemes incredibly well. On the defensive end, we’ve got to make sure that we limit Riley as much as we possibly can.”

The Cony girls are 1-6 this season, losing 57-25 to Messalonskee on Saturday and 50-28 to Hampden on Tuesday. Oxford Hills (4-2) is allowing 25.3 points per game during a three-game win streak, and features one of the top players in the state in senior Anna Winslow.

The Cony boys are 4-3, including three wins by five points or less. Oxford Hills comes in at 4-2, with one-point losses to Brunswick and undefeated Edward Little.

The Rams love to run and press, and hit eight 3-pointers in a recent win over Messalonskee. This is the kind of win that would go a long way toward putting the Rams in the Eastern A quarterfinals.

“Cony basketball has not been in the Civic Center in a long time,” Maines said. “It’s been seven or eight years. We’re going to get back there this year, we hope.”

Matt DiFilippo — 861-9243

[email protected]

Twitter: @Matt_DiFilippo

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