Cony and Gardiner will play a regular-season game for the first time since 2007 at 6:30 p.m. on Friday night at Cony High School. The teams have faced each other in preseason and summer basketball in the interim, but realignment has finally brought them back together in the new Class A.

Coaches from both teams said they expect a big crowd and hope Friday night is the rebirth of a classic rivalry. But both added the focus is on their immediate future and building off 1-1 starts in the season’s first week.

“Our guys need to treat it like a regular game,” Cony coach T.J. Maines said.

“It’s probably both teams looking at it like it’s a chance to get going on picking up some wins to get into the tournament,” Gardiner coach Jason Cassidy said. “A game like this could really give Gardiner or Cony some momentum.”

The Tigers lost to an old Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class B nemesis, Medomak Valley, on opening night, 51-40, then renewed acquaintances with Mt. Blue in a 75-42 win on Tuesday. Cassidy said his team is still trying to find its offensive identity after graduating top scorers Seth McFarland and Brad Weston and define roles for the inexperienced cast around seniors Jordan Lamb, Eli Fish and Brian Dunn. The Tigers have looked like a more cohesive group at the defensive end.

“The kids are working hard and the offense is coming,” he said. “We went down to Medomak Valley and held them to 20 in the first half. We struggled a little offensively that evening and they shot 21 free throws while we shot zero. It’s kind of tough to win a ballgame like that. Then we had to pick our poison at Mt. Blue and held them to 42.”

“They’re well-coached,” Maines said of the Tigers. “They have good athletes and seniors who have been together and had success in the playoffs. Jordan Lamb is one of the best players in our area.”

The Rams started the season in Brewer and hung around with one of the projected contenders in Class A North before falling, 68-60. Returning to the friendly confines for their home opener, they drilled nine 3-pointers in a 65-51 triumph over Camden Hills.

“I like what we’ve done,” Maines said. “Guys are playing unselfishly. The ball movement has been good. Defensively, we’re getting after it, just not always intelligently. But I like the intensity level.”

Senior forward Nijual Davis hit three of those 3-pointers while exploding for a game-high 26 points, showing why Maines thinks he could be one of the most improved players in the conference. Junior guard Nate Parlin also knocked down three from behind the arc en route to 13 points. Senior swingman T.J. Cusick, the leading returning scorer, has scored 15 points in each game.

Friday’s game could be a contrast in styles. Cony always looks to push the tempo, while Gardiner will pick and choose its running opportunities but try mainly to get the 6-foot-4 Lamb going in the paint.

“They want to get up and pressure and force quick shots,” Cassidy said. “We don’t play quite at the pace they do.”

• • •

The Winslow High School boys basketball team got a late start, with many players missing the first week of the preseason because they were still practicing with the football team as it prepared to defend its Class C state title. Even so — and despite graduating four of five starters — the Black Raiders are off to an impressive start. Winslow is 2-0, winning by 27 and 31 points over Mount View and Maine Central Institute, respectively.

“I think that’s become a cliche. Our guys are good athletes and they come in ready and in shape,” Winslow coach Jared Browne said. “Some teams might struggle early and blame football, but that’s just an excuse.”

In the two wins — 64-37 over Mount View and 68-37 over MCI — the Black Raiders have been balanced offensively. Junior Dylan Hutchinson averaged 10.5 points in the two games, while Justin Burgher, Spencer Miranda, Keanu Earle and Trenton Bouchard each averaged around 10 points. Miranda, a 6-foot junior, has played very well, Browne said.

“He played for our JV last year. He won a spot on the team in tryouts, and in the preseason games he earned a starting spot,” Browne said.

Senior Nate Martin has been a solid sixth man for the Black Raiders, coming off the bench to play defense and grab rebounds. As expected, Bouchard, a 6-1 senior, has been Winslow’s defensive stopper. Against Mount View, Bouchard defended Mustangs guard Joey Danna and held him to five points. Against MCI, Bouchard held Josh Buker — one of the better point guards in the conference — to four points, all in the first half.

Winslow’s next game comes Friday at home against rival Waterville. Although Waterville moved up to Class A, the teams will face each other twice this season, on Friday and again on Dec. 22.

“We know they’re going to play us hard, because it’s Waterville-Winslow,” Browne said.

• • •

If Tuesday’s KVAC Class A game between Hampden and Messalonskee was an indication, referees are going to be calling player control fouls tighter this season.

Hampden was called for four player control fouls, including three on guard Nick Gilpin.

“I would have agreed with most of them. I thought the last one on Nick could’ve gone either way,” Hampden coach Russ Bartlett said. “The bottom line is you’ve got to make sure we’re not running people over, and there’s nothing wrong with a six-foot pullup (jumper) that’s uncontested.”

Messalonskee coach Peter McLaughlin saw his team called for a few player control fouls in the game, too. McLaughlin said he thinks the increase isn’t the result of a point of emphasis by the officials, but early season basketball and players readjusting to the pace of the game.

“I think it’s just good defensive positioning. It’s early, so I think offense is a little behind. I think we’re used to getting to spots that in summer time were there,” McLaughlin said. “Now in games there’s defensive rotation and there’s guys waiting for them. When you leave your feet in Class A boys basketball you’ve got to know that there’s a guy standing there around the rim.”

• • •

Valley entered the season as one of the favorites in Class D South and, so far, the Cavaliers have earned the preseason praise with a 70-42 win over Buckfield and a 72-44 win over Rangeley. Coach Luke Hartwell thinks the team can still do better.

“We’ve had some really good moments,” Hartwell said. “We need to be more consistent from the get-go. We need to play 32 minutes, not 16 or 24.”

In just two games, the Cavs have already had three players score at least 20 points. Cody Laweryson scored 20 in the win over Buckfield on Saturday. On Tuesday, Austin Cates had 26 points at Rangeley, while Collin Miller added 24.

“He’s gained that confidence we talk about and has been an impact player for us,” Hartwell said of Cates.

This weekend, Valley makes the ferry ride for a pair of games at Vinalhaven. The weather should be a little better than the last time the Cavs made the trip two seasons ago. That time, the team’s ride back to the mainland was in below zero windchill.

“Two years ago we almost didn’t make it off the island. We just beat the storm,” Hartwell said.

The Cavs will play Friday night, spend the night at Vinalhaven High School and play again at 10:30 on Saturday morning. It’s a trip well known by teams in the East/West Conference.

“It’s a good bonding experience. Most of these kids play multiple sports. All the kids on the team have experience going to Vinalhaven,” Hartwell said.

• • •

Former Nokomis standout Chris Braley’s first season at St. Anselm College is off to a good start. A junior with the Hawks, Braley has played and started in six games while averaging 11.5 points and nine rebounds per game.

The 6-foot-5 guard/forward spent the first two years of his college career at Stony Brook before transferring to St. Anselm for the start of the current school year. In Wednesday’s 91-83 win at Assumption Braley scored 13 points with six rebounds, two assists and a steal. The Hawks are 8-1 overall and 5-1 in Northeast-10 Conference games. St. Anselm hosts Franklin Pierce on Sunday.

• • •

Around the state: So far, the jump from Class B to Class A has been good to Medomak Valley and Oceanside. The Panthers and Mariners are each 2-0. Medomak Valley gets its first game against a longtime Class A school this Friday at Messalonskee, while Oceanside plays another team that moved up in Camden Hills. Medomak Valley and Oceanside play each other on Tuesday… Deering’s offense has looked sharp. The Rams (2-0) scored 82 points against Windham and 103 against Noble. Deering plays at Edward Little (1-1) of Auburn on Friday… Pine Tree Academy started the season 3-0 with all three wins by six points or fewer.

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