If there is anything the Class D boys tournament at the Augusta Civic Center has been known for historically, it is the unknown.

Like the old Western D tournament, the Class D South showcase draws teams from as far south as South Berwick (Seacoast Christian School) and as far north as Jackman (Forest Hills), and teams — almost equally from public and private schools — who toil in several different conferences in between.

Realignment, defections to private school leagues and the addition of a fifth conference didn’t change the borders of what is now Class D South, but it did throw out some of the regular boarders of the ACC’s D tournament.

“With that, you’ve had some new teams in the field and it adds a little mystery,” Valley coach Luke Hartwell said.

Instead of frequent regular and postseason foes such as Buckfield and Hyde meeting Hartwell’s Cavaliers at the Augusta Civic Center, teams the Cavaliers rarely face — if ever— such as A.R. Gould and Pine Tree Academy are in the bracket.

Despite this, there seems to be no mystery who is the favorite. Top-seeded Valley (17-0) was never challenged in the East-West Conference or atop the Heal points standings. The Cavaliers have size, savvy and experience from their 2014 regional title to draw upon from their senior leaders — Collin Miller, Luke Malloy and the multi-faceted Cody Laweryson — as well as a talented and energetic group of underclassmen led by junior guard Austin Cates. They won all of their games by an average margin of 30 points.

The average margin was 37 in Valley’s two regular season wins over quarterfinal opponent Rangeley (1 p.m. Saturday). The eighth-seeded Lakers (8-11) have been playing perhaps their best stretch of basketball since their second loss to Valley, 80-35, on Jan. 22, however, and Hartwell is cautioning his team not to take its first game lightly.

“Yes, we won both games, but the tournament is a different animal,” said Hartwell, noting that last year the Cavaliers had their way with Vinalhaven during the regular season, then struggled for three quarters against the seventh-seeded Vikings before blowing them out in the fourth quarter of a 72-49 win.

Since that loss to Valley, the Lakers (8-11) have won three out of five, including a 69-59 preliminary round victory over No. 9 Forest Hills on Wednesday. For much of the season, Rangeley has relied on sophomore Carl Trafton and juniors Kyle LaRochelle and Ricky Thompson for its scoring. Against Forest Hills, that trio reached double figures and became a quartet as junior Devon Clark scored a team-high 18 points. Continuing that balance Saturday would boost the chances of an upset.

While three of the four tournament semifinalists will be decided Saturday, the identity of the fourth won’t be known until Monday. As has been the case in previous years, second-seeded Pine Tree Academy’s request to have its quarterfinal moved from Saturday to Monday was granted by the Maine Principals’ Association. The private, Seventh-day Adventist school will face No. 7 Islesboro Monday at 10:30 a.m. in what has upset potential. Islesboro beat PTA on its home floor, 53-51, three weeks ago.

Also on Saturday, No. 3 Seacoast Christian kicks off the bracket at 8:30 a.m. against No. 6 Vinalhaven. Those two teams split during the regular season. After the Forest Hills and Valley girls square off, No. 4 Greenville and No. 5 A.R. Gould meet in the other boys quarterfinal at 11:30 a.m.

Randy Whitehouse — 621-5638

[email protected]

Twitter: @RAWmaterial33

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