Marcus Christopher is the 2019 Morning Sentinel Boys Basketball Player of the Year. Staff photo by Andy Molloy

Few players in the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference drew as much defensive attention as Skowhegan’s Marcus Christopher.

“I was triple teamed at times, box and one, all kinds of different stuff, packed in zones,” Christopher said.

Arguably the most versatile player in the conference, Christopher sill found ways to be the centerpiece everything Skowhegan’s did, and to get his teammates involved. When the regular season ended, Christopher was second in the KVAC Class A in scoring (17.5 points per game), second in rebounding (7.5 rpg), third in field goal percentage (55.2 percent), and sixth in free throw percentage (77.9 percent). In the playoffs, Christopher stepped up more, averaging just over 18 points in three games, including 28 points in Skowhegan’s regional quarterfinal upset of No. 2 Hampden Academy.

“It was one of those deals where we said coming into the playoffs, all right, Marcus, we’re coming through you every possession. He was all for it. He took on that role, and excelled,” Skowhegan coach Tom Nadeau said. “He’s a difficult matchup for anybody. He could handle bigs, he could handle guards. Bring a big out to the perimeter. Bring a guard inside. He’s a tough matchup. Marcus is a great player, and he had some really good role players around him. We just harped on those role players to continue playing with confidence and help him out.”

The No. 7 seed in the region, Skowhegan advanced to the Class A North championship game, and Christopher’s play was a big reason why. The Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class A North Player of the Year, Christopher also was selected to play in the McDonald’s Senior All-Star game. For his efforts, Marcus Christopher is the Morning Sentinel Boys Basketball Player of the Year. Kobe Nadeau of Lawrence also was considered.

“He’s a kid who has high character. When you build around guys with high character, you’re going to be successful,” Mt. Blue coach Travis Magnusson said of Christopher.

At 6-foot-4, Christopher is built to dominate in the post, but can play any position. For the Indians this season, he often did.

“I’ve always been just a basketball player, I guess. I’ve never been tagged with a position. I’ve always kind of had to do a lot of things,” Christopher said.

To counter defenses designed to keep the ball out of Christopher’s hands, Skowhegan often played him at point guard, bringing the ball up court. It was comfortable to Christopher, who played point before a growth spurt in junior high.

“The ball has to start in his hands. In some games where teams weren’t pressuring us as much, we would allow him to go somewhere else, to get him the ball later in the possession. He had to bring the ball up. He had to take advantage of matchups inside. Whatever it took, he was willing to do,” Nadeau said.

Added Christopher: “If I create something for somebody else, it’s a lot easier than getting into halfcourt and get it then.”

Each of the two times Magnusson’s Mt. Blue team played Skowhegan, the Cougars defensive plan was built around denying Christopher the ball. In the first meeting, the season opener, the plan worked to a point. Christopher scored just seven points in the first half, and Mt. Blue held a one-point lead. Christopher 15 points in the second half to finish with a game-high 22, despite Mt. Blue’s best efforts. While the Cougars escaped with a 57-54 win, they felt like Christopher took over the game down the stretch.

“He almost single-handedly won that game,” Magnusson said. “He’s a point guard, and he’s one of the biggest, strongest guys in the conference.”

Being able to play Christopher anywhere was a luxury, Nadeau said.

“He’s always been a really good ball handler. He’s always been a really good shooter. I’ll be honest, I was surprised that teams didn’t pack it in a little bit more on him and make him shoot from the outside,” Nadeau said. “He’s a kid who would find a way to get it inside no matter what. His toughness, mentally and physically, would allow him to get through a physically draining season.”

Before Skowhegan made its run to the regional final, first it had to get into the tournament. The Indians did that with wins in their final two regular season games, beating rivals Messalonskee and Lawrence to earn the No. 7 seed in the eight team field. In the 54-43 win over Messalonskee, Christopher scored 20 points. In the 41-37 win over Lawrence, he added 12 points.

“Everybody bought in and was doing whatever it took to finish off games. We were making the key plays you have to make,” Christopher said. “We knew there might not be a tomorrow if we didn’t. That’s how the last two weeks (of the regular season) were.”

Christopher’s best came in the tournament. First, with a 28-point effort in the 68-63 quarterfinal upset win over a Hampden team that beat Skowhegan by 31 points just a few weeks earlier. Christopher worked to get to the line, where he made 11 of 14 foul shots, and the extra attention paid him by the Broncos opened his teammates for good shots. Levi Obert made three 3-pointers in the third quarter, and Carter Hunt sank a pair of threes.

“He had a lot of games where he did a lot of the little things. But the Hampden game was huge, because (Christopher) being able to score almost at will allowed them to collapse on him, allowed other guys to get open, and they hit shots too,” Nadeau said.

“Execution was huge. We had five days to prepare. Every single day we did the same thing, trying to make sure we had everything down,” Christopher said. “Coming into the year our goal was to get back to Augusta and see where we could go. We knew we had a lot of potential, so we were just trying to grow over the course of the year.”

A standout football player as well, Christopher was an all-Pine Tree Conference quarterback and recently selected to take part in the Maine Shrine Lobster Bowl all-star game in July. As of now, Christopher is unsure of his college plans, and whether or not they’ll include either basketball or football.

“It’s going to depend on the situation,” he said. “I’m having a hard time committing. I’m trying to leave stuff open even though the clock is ticking.”

Nadeau will remember Christopher as an outstanding team leader.

“They knew in times of need, look to Marcus. He was always consistent with his leadership. He was always positive, always constructive,” Nadeau said. “He was willing to do what’s best for the team, but not afraid to, this year in particular, speak his mind and try and get kids to come out of that timidness. He was an extension of the coach with his teammates.”

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM


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