When Antoine Morin bought the Forest Hills boys basketball team dinner following the team’s first regional championship in 2012, he had no idea it would become a tradition. But when the Tigers beat Hyde on Saturday for the Western Class D title, Morin opened his wallet for the third time in four years.

“We joke, you start winning, you don’t pay for a meal,” Forest Hills coach Anthony Amero said.

A former Forest Hills standout player, Morin is now a teacher in Skowhegan. Over the years, Amero has had Morin, who left the Jackman school as the all-time leading scorer with 1,331 points (a mark since eclipsed by Evan Worster’s 1,555) speak to the Tigers about playing for Forest Hills.

“(Morin) was the greatest player in program history at that point,” Amero said. “He arguably still is.”

After the Tigers won the Western D final in 2012, they looked around and asked each other, what do we do now? Somebody suggested, how about lunch?

The team went to Big G’s deli in Winslow on the way home, and Morin picked up the tab. He did it again in 2013, and again on Saturday.

Next Saturday, the Tigers will play Fort Fairfield for the Class D state title at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor. Forest Hills went to Bangor on Tuesday to practice on the court. It was the team’s first trip the arena, which hosted its first high school basketball tournament last season.

“It (the Cross Insurance Center) is a lot to get used to. The kids have never seen anything like it,” Amero said.

Tip for Saturday’s championship game is set for 3:05 p.m.

• • •

If Saturday’s win over Bangor in the Eastern Class A regional final was a test of how the Lawrence girls basketball team would react to being in a close game, the Bulldogs aced it.

“We’ve had a few close games, especially with Bangor,” Lawrence coach John Donato. “Especially with Bangor.”

Donato emphasized that the Bulldogs stuck with their game plan and never panicked, despite being down early. Bangor did a good job keeping the ball out of the hands of 1,000-point scorer Nia Irving in the low post, and that was expected.

“We knew we’d have a hard time with Nia not getting the ball inside,” Donato said. “We had to stay with our game plan. We didn’t turn the ball over, we took the shots that were there.”

Lawrence made seven 3-pointers, including five from guard Dominique Lewis.

“There is a point where somebody has to step up. Domie is a three-year starter. She’s a very good shooter. We’re a good shooting team,” Donato said.

The Bulldogs are playing in their first state championship game since 1994, the last of four consecutive titles won by Lawrence. Their opponent on Saturday at the Augusta Civic Center is Thornton Academy of Saco, which is making its first appearance in the state game.

• • •

With Saturday’s 39-22 win over Richmond in the Western Class D final, the Rangeley girls basketball team snapped a decade of close and almosts in the regional tournament.

Entering Saturday morning’s game, the Lakers had played in seven regional finals since winning the Class D state championship in 2004. Two of those losses were by one point, including last season’s gut-wrenching 53-52 loss to Forest Hills at the buzzer.

This season, the Lakers had their biggest playoff scare in the regional semifinals, when they eked out a 39-35 come from behind win over Searsport.

“It was nice to have a little bit more of a relaxed game today,” Rangeley senior Taylor Esty said after Saturday’s 17-point victory.

The Lakers will face four-time defending champion Washburn in the Class D championship game, Saturday at 1:05 p.m. at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor.

• • •

Last week was a pretty good one for Maranacook athletics. The Black Bears won the Class B boys skiiing state championship. The boys basketball team reached the Western Class C final.

And, for the first time in school history, the girls basketball team won a regional title. The Black Bears beat Dirigo on Saturday to take the Western C championship, and will play Houlton on Saturday at 7 p.m. at Bangor’s Cross Insurance Center for the state title.

“The community is very pleased,” Maranacook coach Jeannine Paradis said. “They’re excited we were able to make some history.”

On Tuesday night, Paradis said her team probably will not have a practice session at the Cross Insurance Center. One reason is the cost, $250 for an hour on the court. Another reason is difficulty in finding a time that works. The University of Maine hosts a men’s basketball game at the arena on Wednesday night, while the Maine women’s basketball team plays there on Thursday.

Practicing in their home gym will be fine, Paradis said.

“Maranacook has had some very good athletes, and we’ve done something no girls basketball team has done,” Paradis said. “It’s a great week for Maranacook sports.”

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM

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