Messalonskee unified basketball coach Tommy Hill isn’t about to alter preparations, philosophy or strategy when quarterfinal round play opens across the state Tuesday afternoon.

“We won’t do anything different,” said Hill, who is also the school’s athletic director. “Our philosophy has always been equal playing time for everybody and we’ll continue to do that in the playoffs. We just rotate the kids in and out. We will treat this as a regular season game. It’s just another game for the kids.”

Others are taking a different approach.

“In the playoffs you add a level of intensity that you don’t have in the regular season,” said Winthrop coach Joan Thompson, whose team defeated Cony 44-20 in a prelim game Monday. “Players feel it, fans feel it. We are on our home court with friends watching and we want to do well. During the regular season, kids will get to rebounds and hand it back to other team’s players. During the playoffs it will be a little different. The intensity changes and strategy changes. We want to win — but not at the expense of good sportsmanship.”

No. 5 Messalonskee (7-1), which sank No. 12 Hall-Dale in a North prelim game last week, will play at No. 4 Oak Hill (7-1) at 3:30 p.m. Tuesday. No. 3 Winthrop (6-1) will host No. 6 Lewiston (7-2) at 3:30 p.m. Tuesday while No. 2 Winslow (7-1) will entertain No. 7 Oceanside (5-1) at 4 p.m.

“We are a little bit nervous because we have no idea what we are up against,” Thompson said. “We haven’t played Lewiston so we just don’t know. It should be fun, though. We’ll just have to match the intensity of the opponent.”

Messalonskee and Oak Hill will meet for the first time since unified basketball made its Maine debut in January 2015.

“It’s always fun to play someone different, to see how someone else does things,” Hill said. “We haven’t had a chance to play them. It’s a whole different matchup. The kids are excited because for them it’s another opportunity to play.”

Oak Hill coach Pete Dennis said that while the goal is to have fun, the playoffs do bring out a competitive nature amongst the players.

“It becomes more real,” Dennis said. “This is all for fun but in the playoffs it does start to take a different turn. It’s exciting. I know the kids are ready.

“Last year, we finished in last so this has been great. A lot more kids decided to do it this year who were too nervous to do it last year. It’s a lot of fun. Everyone is doing a fine job.”

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.