While we haven’t technically reached the midway point of the high school basketball season, the start of a new calendar year seems like a good point to take stock of the hoops landscape. So here are a few random thoughts:

•The unofficial second half gets off to a great start this weekend, with several matchups pitting the top two teams in the Heal points. Friday’s slate includes Medomak Valley at Winslow (Eastern B boys) and Forest Hills at Valley (Western D boys), On Saturday, Eastern A commands the spotlight with two 1 vs. 2 matchups, Hampden at Edward Little (boys) and Bangor at Lawrence girls.

•As enticing as the Hampden/Edward Little clash is, the real intrigue in Eastern A in the second half will be how the rest of the region falls into place. Brunswick, Cony, Lewiston, Brewer, Bangor, Messalonskee and Oxford Hills would be in the tournament if the season ended today. A matchup involving any of those teams could be considered a toss-up. All of them have three or four losses and as many expected, spots 3-9 in the tournament are up for grabs. Brewer could have an advantage because it upset Hampden at the start of the season. But don’t count out Mt. Ararat, which is currently on the outside looking in but beat Brewer and lost to Messalonskee, Lewiston, Cony and EL by three points or less. And Lawrence, Skowhegan and Mt. Blue are all capable of playing the spoiler role, if not making their own run at a spot in the preliminary round.

•The Eastern A girls Heals are a bit more spread out but there is no doubt Lawrence (7-0) and Bangor (7-0) distinguished themselves in the first half and Saturday’s game in Fairfield pits the two best teams in the KVAC to this point. A great subplot is the matchup between two of the best players in the state, Mary Butler, Bangor’s Brown University-bound star, and Nia Irving, Lawrence’s outstanding junior who is still returning to form after suffering a knee injury during the offseason. Both are 6-foot-1 forwards with the skill to play inside and outside.

•Congratulations to two local coaches on their recent career milestones. Lawrence girls coach John Donato picked up his 500th career victory with Saturday’s 76-39 win over Brewer. At the other end of the spectrum, first-year Waterville coach Nick Pelotte got his first coaching win on Tuesday when the Purple Panthers beat Belfast, 52-46.

•Oak Hill’s girls have dominated the Mountain Valley Conference with its depth and balance. The Raiders are currently fourth in the Western B Heals because of a recurring drawback for the league’s Class B school(s), Heal points are tougher to come by in a Class C league. That makes their upcoming stretch of games all the more important because they won’t have a better shot at improving their lot. The slate starts Saturday with a game at Hall-Dale. Home games with unbeaten Boothbay and Madison follow next week, and a Jan. 20 tilt with currently undefeated Dirigo will be big.

•Most of the marquee matchups in the MVC boys schedule are still more than a week away. Boothbay remains unbeaten and getting healthier. The Seahawks have a showdown with Dirigo next Friday. Winthrop, also 7-0, gets its first crack at them on Jan. 15. Coach Todd MacArthur has to be happy with the offensive firepower his Ramblers have shown so far. They’re averaging 67 points per game. Madison, which lost to Boothbay by six on Dec. 12, hasn’t lost its stride, winning four in a row since its only defeat.

•Defending champion Mt. Desert Island and Preque Isle are still the girls teams to beat in Eastern B (MDI won Tuesday’s 1 vs. 2 clash with PI, 60-54), but there have been some rumblings in the KVAC that the south will rise again. Camden Hills has separated itself in the first half of the season with its 7-1 record. Winslow is 6-2 and primed for a difficult two-week stretch that includes Medomak Valley tonight and Maranacook. Gardiner is emerging as a potential sleeper, too. The Tigers fought tooth-and-nail with unbeaten Spruce Mountain and Camden Hills before knocking off Medomak Valley on Tuesday. Coach Mike Gray has a small but scrappy team that could be dangerous if it emerges from its upcoming slate against Lincoln Academy, Maranacook and Oceanside with a win or two and continues to build off the confidence boost it got from beating the Panthers.

•No team in the state has dominated the first half of the season than the Rangeley girls. With Friday’s 93-13 win over Islesboro, the Lakers improved to 8-0. Their average margin of victory is 52.8 points. They’ve given up 125 points (15.6 per game). Not bad for a team that has played all but two of its games on the road.