The boys basketball teams in Class A North beat up on each other all season. Each of the eight teams in the tournament field can point to a signature win that could point to them as a favorite. Each also has a loss it would rather forget.

“Everybody knows what everybody is doing this time of year,” Lawrence coach Jason Pellerin said. “Are you ready to make a play?”

Added Mt. Blue coach Travis Magnusson: “All eight teams have a chance to win it. Everyone is good, but there are better teams. It’s going to be tough to win three of those games.”

Cony guard Simon McCormick brings the ball up court during a Dec. 14 game at Gardiner. Kennebec Journal photo by Joe Phelan

Magnusson’s Cougars (11-7) earned the three seed with their first winning season since 2012, and will face No. 6 Brewer (9-9) in the region’s first tournament game, Saturday at 3:30 p.m. at the Augusta Civic Center.

“We celebrated our year. We realize what an accomplishment that was. Now, everyone is here and ready to go on,” Magnusson said.

The Cougars are led by a pair of seniors, Garrett Reynolds (17.3 points per game) and James Anderson (15.8 ppg). Mt. Blue fell to the Witches, 55-31, in the regular season finale last week. The Witches, who needed the victory to qualify for the tournament, shot very well, Magnusson said.

“We learned we’ve got to keep them in front of us. They’ve gotten a lot better,” Magnusson said of Brewer.

No. 7 Skowhegan (8-10) enters  with three wins in its final four games. The Indians face No. 2 Hampden (14-4) in the quarterfinals. The Broncos swept a pair of games from Skowhegan in the regular season.

“(Hampden is) one of the favorites, in my opinion. They do a lot of little things well,” Skowhegan coach Tom Nadeau said.

Skowhegan is led by senior forward Marcus Christopher (17.5 points, 7.5 rebounds per game). Different secondary scorers have stepped up, depending on the game, Nadeau said. Carter Hunt made 32 threes in the regular season. Hampden is led by Bryce Lausier, who led the conference with 18.6 points per game. The Broncos will be without guard Kory Winch, who was dismissed from the team last week. Center Mark Hutchings could return to the Broncos after missing most of the season recovering from injuries suffered in a serious car accident in early January.

Early in the season, Erskine did not look like a team that would be in the tournament. The Eagles won just once in their first five games. Since then, coach Tim Bonsant got his team to play tough halfcourt man-to-man defense, and with players accepting their roles, Erskine went 11-2 to close the season. The No. 5 seed, Erskine (12-6) will face No. 4 Lawrence (11-7).

“I know Coach Pellerin will have (Lawrence) prepared,” Bonsant said. “Those kids play really hard, Lawrence basketball. They play strong defense.”

Braden Soule (12.5 ppg) leads a balanced Erskine offense, but the Eagles’ calling card this season is defense. Erskine allowed a league-low 46.56 points per game in the regular season.

“Erskine is a veteran team. They’re good athletes,” Pellerin said. “I’ve really liked our fourth quarter defense over the last six or seven games. If you can play good defense for three quarters, and if you’re able to ratchet it up a notch and play great defense in the fourth, you always have a chance to win.”

Skowhegan senior Marcus Christopher (4) drives the lane against Mt. Blue High School during a game earlier this season in Skowhegan. Morning Sentinel photo by Michael G. Seamans

Like Erskine, Lawrence was among the KVAC’s top defensive teams in the regular season, allowing just over 50 points per game. Kobe Nadeau (15.8 ppg, 5.1 apg) leads the Bulldogs.

Saturday’s final quarterfinal game features No. 8 Medomak Valley (12-6) against No. 1 Cony (14-4). It’s been 20 years since Cony earned the top seed in the Class A North tournament, and it faces what might be the top seed’s toughest opponent since Bangor lost to No. 9 Hampden — which went 14-4 — in 2005.

“I told the guys, ‘Medomak was picked ahead of you in the preseason,'” Cony coach TJ Maines said, referencing the KVAC preseason coaches poll that ranked Medomak Valley second and Cony third. “We’re just focused on the first game.”

The highest scoring team in the league, averaging just over 72 points per game, Cony is led by junior guard Simon McCormick (14.5 ppg), Dakota Dearborn (13.1 ppg), and Ian Bowers (9.0 rpg). The Rams played Medomak once in the regular season, taking a tight, 62-58 win. Gabe Allaire leads the Panthers with 11.2 point per game.

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM

 


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