The 2018-19 basketball season will feature a leaner Class D South. Gone are A.R. Gould, North Haven and Highview Christian, which did not field teams this winter. Defending state champ Greenville is back, as are northern Somerset County rivals Valley and Forest Hills, which will contend for the East/West Conference and regional titles.

“I think the D South tournament will be pretty good this year,” Forest Hills coach Antony Amero said.

Valley finished second in the region’s Heal Point standings last season, and fell to Gould in the regional semifinals. The Cavaliers lost a pair of starters, Josh Brown and Dillon Beane, but return seniors Mason Wyman, Keegan Farnham and Joey Thomas to the starting lineup.

“Dillon and Josh were two of the best defensive guys in the league,” coach Curtis Miller said. “We need those seniors to step up and lead the defense. They’re the leaders. It’s their team now.”

Thomas is one of the top guards in the East/West Conference, and Farnham and Wyman bring plenty of experience. Junior forward Spencer Hunnewell will see an increased role for the Cavaliers.

Without much depth, injuries hurt Forest Hills last season. The Tigers enter the season with a healthy lineup and look to be among the region’s top teams.

“Three games into last year, we lose two starters and still went 13-5,” Amero said. “We’ve got to stay healthy.”

Sophomore guard Parker Desjardins is a pure shooter who averaged 23.5 points per game before a broken foot ended his season last December. Guard Jakob Rivas, a senior, is back after a shoulder injury last season. Hunter Cuddy helped fill the void last season as a sophomore last season. He averaged 15.7 points and 10 rebounds a game last season.

Forest Hills doesn’t have much size. The return of 6-foot senior Dalton Gregoire after a year off helps. The Tigers need to stay out of foul trouble and rebound better in order to play at the pace they want.

“Can we control the boards? If we can rebound, we can run,” Amero said.

New Temple Academy coach Scott Corey takes over a team that has made the Class D South quarterfinals each of the last two seasons. The Bereans hope to make a deeper postseason run this season. A trio of senior forwards, Nathaniel Wiles, Ilija Ivkovic, and Noah Shepherd, are the team’s leaders.

“Our three seniors are doing a great job,” Corey said.

Improving its defensive effort will be the key to Temple’s success. The Bereans can score, he said, but can’t afford to get into a shootout every time they take the court.

Rangeley is another team looking to make a playoff run after a few years of reaching the quarters. Seniors Leo Perez and Cal Crosby lead the Lakers, along with juniors Ian Lillis and Kenny Thompson.

“(We’re) looking to improve on last year’s record (9-10) and go higher into the tournament,” coach Jeff Larochelle said.

In the MAISAD league, Kents Hill experienced a three-win improvement from the previous season, and will look to continue that trend under new coach Brian Smith. Senior point guard Trevor Watson ran the Huskies’ offense last year, senior forward Latrell Bryant is a good scorer with a smooth shot and Tyler Wright and Mitch Tarrio are good players on the wing as well.

“The guys are ready to fight,” Smith said, “with a new fire inside to come out and make a statement this year that a team lacking size can still be successful and competitive.”

GIRLS

Rangeley ran into a juggernaut in Vinalhaven the past couple of years, but the Lakers are once again the team to beat this season. They graduated just one player from last year’s 16-2 squad — both losses to Vinalhaven — and should be deeper and quicker than any team on its schedule.

“We’re going to be quick and fast,” coach Heidi Deery said. “We don’t have a lot of height.”

The Lakers have a lot of experience, though, led by leading returning scorer Brooke Egan. Klylie Collins, Lauren and Emily Eastlack, Winnie Larochelle, Ellah Smith and Olivia Pye all saw plenty of action last year while the team has added Texas transfer Toni Alvarez, a quick and intense junior.

Deery sees Temple and Greenville, which her team doesn’t play, as the top threats in D South.

“We’re going to take it game by game,” Deery said. “The whole season we’re working toward the goal of being a championship team.”

Temple graduated six seniors but returns enough firepower to contend most night. Juju and Hannah Hubbard, Deleyni Carr, Olivia Baker, Jaimee Feugill and Chloe Riportella all saw meaningful minutes a year ago. Coach Joe Rossignol is also integrating a number of exchange students, representing 10 different countries into his lineup.

“I’m encouraged how quickly they’re starting to understand,” he said. “I don’t expect to do well until the middle part of the season.”

Valley brings back four starters Kendra Sweet, Jillian Miller, Rianna Davis and Kennedy Savoy. Without a player over 5-foor-9, coach Paul Belanger hopes his team will push the pace of play.

“With four returning starters hopefully we can get up to the middle of the pack,” he said.

Forest Hills, likewise, returns four starting players from a year ago, including Alexandra Lessard, Mary Lee Brown, Alexis Campbell and Taylor Fontaine.

“We’re young and we’re scrappy,” coach Sean Danforth said. “Our goal is to make it to Augusta. I think we can be in the top five.”

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