At least for motivational purposes, Madison coach Chris LeBlanc couldn’t have asked for a better quarterfinal opponent for the top-seeded and defending Class C state champion Bulldogs than Lisbon in Thursday’s Western Class C quarterfinal.

No. 8 Lisbon (10-7) handed Madison (15-1) its only loss of the season on May 8.

“I would hope now that the kids know, I wouldn’t have to have a big speech prepared and it wouldn’t be necessary to get them up for the game,” LeBlanc said.

Lisbon/Madison is one of several quarterfinals involving rematches of conference rivals, along with Mountain Valley at Hall-Dale, Dirigo at Monmouth in Western C; Skowhegan at Cony and Mt. Ararat at Messalonskee in Eastern A; and Buckfield at Rangeley in Western D,

Gardiner, Winslow and Forest Hills will meet non-conference opponents in their quarterfinal games.

In Western C, Lisbon took advantage of several Madison fielding mistakes in its 9-7 win.

“They played a good game. They hit the ball, but we also shot ourselves in the foot,” he said.

The Bulldogs regrouped to win their last nine in a row, clinch the top seed and, for good measure, win the Mountain Valley Conference championship. Players settled into new roles, played unselfishly and exceeded even what LeBlanc had in mind for the regular-season portion of their title defense.

“We had high expectations at the beginning of the year. I didn’t think we would be a top seed,” he said.

In Eastern A, No. 6 Skowhegan (11-5) has plenty of incentive to start strong and keep the game close against No. 3 Cony (13-3). The Indians did the opposite in their 14-4 loss at Cony on May 11.

“We’re just trying to give ourselves a chance,” Skowhegan coach Lee Johnson said. “Last game, we got off to a bad start and took ourselves out of the game early.”

The defending state champions have fared well in one-run games (5-2), so keeping the game close and taking advantage of any opportunities it gets against Cony ace Arika Brochu could work in the Indians’ favor.

“We need to put a lot of ball in play,” Johnson said. “She’s a really good pitcher and she can dominate a game.”

Last year, Skowhegan beat Cony, which was the No. 1 seed, in the Eastern Maine final. The Rams haven’t forgotten about that loss and the lesson it taught them — that regular-season results are meaningless now.

“We beat them 10-0, then they beat us 3-2 in the playoffs,” Cony coach Rocky Gaslin said. “We’re certainly not taking anything for granted.”

Top-seeded Messalonskee (13-3), which draws No. 9 Mt. Ararat (7-10) in the quarterfinals, isn’t overlooking anyone, either.

“Anything can happen,” Eagles coach Leo Bouchard said. “Anybody that makes that mistake, somebody’s going to capitalize on it.”

Messalonskee swept the season series against Mt. Ararat, 16-1 and 5-0, but Bouchard said the gap between the two Eagles is getting smaller.

“They’re a young team,” he said. “They’re well-disciplined. We played them last year and we saw a big improvement with the from this year to last year.”

In Eastern B, top-seeded Gardiner takes on No. 8 Presque Isle, which beat No. 9 Nokomis, 8-4, on Wednesday and has the unenviable task of making the long trip south to face Kristal Smith. No. 6 Winslow (12-5) got back on the winning track with its 15-3 preliminary round win over Medomak Valley on Tuesday and travels to defending state champion Hermon (14-2), the No. 3 seed. The last time the Black Raiders and Hawks met was last year in the quarterfinal round, which Hermon won 10-5.

In Western D, No. 3 Rangeley (6-5) hosts No. 6 Buckfield (9-6). The teams split their first two games this season, with the Bucks winning the season-opener, 9-5, in Buckfield and the Lakers answering with a 12-8 win in Rangeley. No. 7 Forest Hills (6-10) meets No. 2 Searsport (11-5). Top-seeded Richmond (16-0) has a bye and will host the winner of the other quarterfinal between Vinalhaven/North Haven and Greenville in the semifinals.

Randy Whitehouse — 621-5638

[email protected]

Twitter: @RAWmaterial33