The Winslow girls basketball team celebrates against Mount Desert Island during the Class B North quarterfinals last season at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor. Morning Sentinel photo by Michael G. Seamans

How deep is the Class B North girls basketball tournament? Well, undefeated Waterville (18-0) is the three seed.

“The Class B tournament is always wide-open,” Winslow girls coach Brenda Beckwith said.

Added Maine Central Institute coach Jordan Larlee: “Any one of these eight teams can make a run. It’s just a league that’s really deep, and that makes it a lot of fun.”

Beckwith is in her first season coaching the defending state champion Black Raiders. Winslow won the gold ball last year as the No. 6 seed in the North. This season, the Black Raiders (12-6) are the No. 5 seed and open the tournament with a quarterfinal game against No. 4 Old Town (14-4) Saturday at 1:30 p.m. at Bangor’s Cross Insurance Center.

Waterville opens the tournament Friday at 8 p.m. against an opponent it knows well, No. 11 John Bapst (7-12). The Purple Panthers and Crusaders met twice in the regular season, a pair of Waterville wins. Last season, Bapst beat Waterville in the regional quarterfinals.

“They’re well-coached,” Waterville coach Rob Rodrigue said of Bapst. “Anything can happen.”

Waterville’s high-scoring junior guard Sadie Garling missed a pair of games at the end of the regular season with an injury, but is expected to return Friday. Junior forward Maddie Martin also is a scoring threat for the Panthers.

Winslow faces No. 4 Old Town (14-4) in the quarters. The Coyotes are one of the most improved teams in the region, coming off seven wins last season. Beckwith said the Black Raiders will need to continue to play tight defense (Winslow allowed more than 50 points in a game just three times in the regular season), particularly on Old Town’s Hannah Richards.

“She’s one of the best players in the region,” Beckwith said. “She can shoot the three from anywhere. We’ve got to know where she’s at.”

No. 9 Maine Central Institute (10-9) earned its spot in the field with a preliminary round win at Oceanside Tuesday. The Huskies lost a pair of regular season games to the Mariners before putting together a strong all-around game to advance to the Cross Insurance Center.

“We always knew we were better than (Oceanside), talent-wise,” MCI coach Jordan Larlee said. “We played really well defensively. We boxed out, which we don’t always do, and we made just enough shots.”

The Huskies face top-seed Mt. Desert Island (16-2) in the quarters. Julia Watras and Maddy Candage both average just over 12 points per game for the Trojans. Many of MDI’s key players were on the team in 2017, when the Huskies fell to the Trojans in the preliminary round, Larlee said.

The Class B North boys tournament is almost a Big East Conference invitational. Just two Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference teams made the eight-team field, and they play each other Saturday morning in the quarterfinals. No. 5 MCI (14-4) and No. 4 Oceanside (13-5) split a pair of regular season games, with each winning at home. The Mariners are a veteran team, MCI coach Josh Tardy said, and the Huskies need to play tight defense to contain scorers Cooper Wirkala and Jack Lombardo.

“(Trevor) Reed and (Amos) Anderson are matchup problems as well,” Tardy said. “Offensively, we need aggressive post play and some timely shooting.”

Maine Central Institute’s Gavin McArthur (11) shoots a 3-pointer during a game against Winslow on Thursday night in Winslow. Morning Sentinel photo by Michael G. Seamans

The post play will come from 6-foot-8 Jose Montes Valverde, one of the top defensive big men in the tournament. With scorer Owen Williams out with a leg injury, guards Joe Cloutier, Daniel Garamvolgyi, and Gavin McArthur have picked up the scoring slack.

Defending state champion Hermon (18-0) brings a 40-game win streak into the tournament. The Hawks are led by Isaac Varney, Cody Hawes, and Kent Johnson. The biggest challenge Hermon will face will likely come from either No. 2 Caribou (15-3) or No. 3 Mt. Desert Island (13-5). Caribou is led by Parker Deprey, who averaged just over 19 points per game in the regular season. The Viking will face No. 10 Washington Academy in the quarters.

MDI opens the tournament Friday afternoon against No. 6 Ellsworth, its biggest rival. Derek Collin (17.8 points, 8.3 rebounds per game) paces the Trojans. Ellsworth is coming off a lopsided win over No. 11 Winslow in the prelims. Jackson Curtis leads the Eagles with 18.8 points per game.

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM

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