Barring postponements, there’s no way to see them all. But if you enjoy watching boys basketball, there are three No. 1 vs. 2 matchups around the state on Friday and Saturday.

On Friday night in Eastern B, No. 2 Winslow (8-0) hosts No. 1 Medomak Valley (7-1). Also on Friday night, the top two seeds in Western D meet as No. 2 Forest Hills (5-0) is at No. 1 Valley (5-1). On Saturday night, it’s an Eastern A battle as No. 1 Edward Little (8-0) hosts No. 2 Hampden (7-1).

Winslow has been getting consistent big games from Justin Martin, and got 26 points and six assists from Nason Lanphier on Tuesday against Erskine. Medomak is led by Nick DePatsy and Micah Williamson.

“They run a lot of pick-and-pop, a lot of pick-and-roll,” Winslow coach Jared Browne said. “But we pride ourselves on defending that. DePatsy’s a very good player — just an old-school basketball player. Knows how to get his shots off, knows what a good basketball play is. We’ve gotta really make sure we contain him. Williamson’s a really good player — their point guard, a three-year starter. Really good shooter off the dribble.”

The Black Raiders are averaging a very healthy 74.0 points per game, and when they were tested, they came through with close road wins over Spruce Mountain and Belfast. This will be only their third home game of the season.

“We’ve been playing really well,” Browne said. “I’m very happy with our defensive effort. Our execution in the halfcourt, we’ve been very organized. We’ve been running our sets almost to perfection. In transition — we’re an uptempo team — we’ve been getting transition threes, transition layups.”

The Raiders naturally want to avoid peaking too soon, and if there’s any issue of complacency, the upcoming schedule should be a dose of reinvigoration.

“We’ve had some really good practices,” Browne said. “Our practices are organized to be competitive and structured. Every drill we do is competitive, so we keep our compete level high. We know we’ve got some teams on our schedule that are pretty good coming up. We’ve got Medomak Friday. We’ve got Leavitt Tuesday. We’ve got Morse next Friday on the road. So the tough part of our schedule’s coming up, and we’ve got those teams again that have already seen us, and you know that they’re going to be that much more prepared for us.”

• • •

Forest Hills-Valley is a rematch of a game Dec. 16 in Jackman, when Forest Hills downed the Cavaliers 58-34 as Tanner Daigle, Brandon Ouellette and Ryan Petrin each had double-doubles for the Tigers.

Valley’s appearance above Forest Hills in the Western D standings is due to the extra game and a tougher schedule. Both teams have one win over Buckfield and two over Vinalhaven. But Forest Hills’ other win was against Pine Tree (1-5), while Valley holds wins over Richmond (4-2) and Greenville (4-4). Outside of the loss to the Tigers, Valley has scored at least 66 points in every game this season.

• • •

Cony coach T.J. Maines really has nothing against big centers. He’s just shown himself able to adapt when he doesn’t have one.

That was the case at Thomas College, when Maines coached the Terriers to an 89-88 record using an uptempo style. This season’s Cony team has no one taller than 6 foot 2, so Maines uses much the same system. The Rams run, press, work the ball around for open shots, and shoot 3-pointers.

“We’re not yelling about what shot a kid takes,” Maines said. “If you’re gonna play fast, the idea is: The more shot attempts you get, the more of a chance you have of winning the game.”

It’s a system that has worked well enough so far that Cony is 5-3 and fourth in the Eastern A Heal points after finishing 7-11 and 5-13 and missing the playoffs each of the last two seasons. It can also be tougher to scout Cony, because the shots come from many different hands. Ben Leet, for instance, didn’t score in a loss to Hampden, then scored 12 points and hit the go-ahead basket four days later in a big win over Oxford Hills.

“You get more shot attempts by turning people over,” Maines said. “If we play fast, I can play more players. There’s a whole bunch of things to it. Right now, we’re playing nine guys pretty consistently — certainly not even minutes, but nine guys are getting in, and hopefully that will increase to 10 pretty quick. I think if you slow the ball down, you don’t have that opportunity.”

A good parallel to Maines’ teams would be the 1980s Denver Nuggets under coach Doug Moe. That was also a fast-paced system which looked like a pick-up game at first glance, but actually contains many fundamental rules and quick decisions by the players.

“We’re miles ahead of where we were last year,” Maines said. “We had a good summer with it, and they’re getting pretty good. I still think, defensively, we give up too many easy things, because we still don’t get to the basket line enough. We still don’t get to the rotations in the proper manner all the time. So there’s a whole bunch of room for us to improve, and they’re getting the general gist of it. And it’s fun. It’s a fun way to play, and the kids generally seem to like it.”

Maines said part of his philosophy is that the practices should be miserable so the games should be fun by comparison. He certainly likes that at least nine players are seeing the floor each game.

“Tayler Carrier (a senior guard) hasn’t played basketball since he was a freshman,” Maines said. “(Against Oxford Hills) he steps in — two big defensive plays and a rebound, makes two free throws. Maybe if we’re only playing six guys, he’s not really playing, doesn’t get that opportunity, and then he’s probably, ‘I don’t want to play.’ So it’s great for that. The other thing it does is down the road, you’ve got more kids who are ready to play because they’ve had the opportunity at the varsity level.”

• • •

Waterville picked up its first win under new coach Nick Pelotte by beating Belfast 52-46 on Tuesday. The Purple Panthers had come close before — they led Gardiner by nine after one quarter and trailed by only six entering the fourth — but these were their first Heal points.

“We’ve only been together for about six weeks now,” Pelotte said. “The first three or four weeks, we were throwing a lot of new things at them. Now that we’re trusting each other more, we’re not turning over the ball as much. We’re settling down and getting back to playing basketball, because we’re not thinking our way around the court as much.”

The Panthers won against Belfast despite trailing by six at halftime. Four different players scored at least eight points, led by Corey Huerfano with 14. Most importantly, it was tangible evidence that Waterville is indeed improving.

“We come to work every day,” Pelotte said. “We put in a lot of time and a lot of effort. We’re asking a lot of the kids. It’s frustrating — you feel like you’re close, within striking distance, and you keep coming up short. You play a team like Gardiner, they’ve only lost (two games) — we were in the game for the first three quarters. That’s something that at the beginning of the year, we probably wouldn’t have been able to do.”

The top 13 teams qualify for the Eastern B tournament, and Waterville’s win moved the Panthers up to 14th. Camden Hills (2-6) and Foxcroft (2-4) are in the final two playoff spots, so any kind of point-worthy win could mean a playoff spot for Waterville.

Matt DiFilippo — 861-9243

[email protected]

Twitter: @Matt_DiFilippo

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