READFIELD — Cony boys basketball coach T.J. Maines loves whenever Simon McCormick gives him a call. And though a chance to talk basketball with his star player is the biggest reason, it’s not the only one.

“When he calls me, it’s a picture of him in his freshman year that pops up,” Maines said. “And it cracks me up because he’s so tiny.”

Three years later, McCormick has developed into the best point guard in Class A North, and perhaps the best in the whole state. But on Saturday, you could make the argument he wasn’t even the best at Maranacook’s Burbank Memorial Gym.

Maranacook’s guy, Cash McClure, is pretty good himself — to the point that Maines went ahead and called the matchup between the Rams and Black Bears a marquee matchup at the position.

I’d say state. I think respectively in their classes, they can claim that they’re the best point guards in the state, in the junior class and in the senior class,” Maines said. “There aren’t many players better than them in the entire state.”

Hyperbole? Hardly, Maranacook coach Travis Magnusson said.

“That’s pretty unique at any time in the state,” he said. “If you really look at it, I’d be hard-pressed to find better point guards around. They’ve got to be two of the top three point guards in the state.”

Cony and Maranacook both feature deep rosters with talented scorers throughout the lineup, but when the teams play, it’s hard not to have your eyes drawn to the Cony senior and Maranacook junior. They’re dynamic players; McCormick plays 100 miles an hour but never loses his rhythm on the floor and gets better as the pressure mounts, and McClure is a two-way player with a torrid shooting hand.

Both players carry their teams’ fortunes in their hands, and thrive on both ends of the court. McCormick is averaging 20.3 points (second in A North), 6.4 assists and 6.3 steals (both first), while McClure is averaging 22 points, 8.5 assists and seven rebounds per contest.

You’ve got Cash who’s having another great year, shoots it great, great playmaker. … He’s not just scoring, he’s doing other things. He’s a really good leader for us too,” Magnusson said. “And then this year, (Simon’s) really, really turned his offensive game up a notch, too. In my opinion, he’s making a run at Mr. Basketball right now with how he’s playing. I think he’s really got himself in that conversation.”

Both players showcased those talents Saturday evening. McClure scored 26 points while leading Maranacook to a 69-65 victory, while McCormick countered with 12 points for the Rams.

It was the latest in what’s been a rivalry of sorts between the two, one that started back when McCormick was just over 5 feet tall as a sophomore and McClure was a rail-thin freshman. Playing among bigger, stronger players, the two proved nevertheless that they belonged.

I think they both were probably about 5-2 in that game, 5-2 or 5-3,” Magnusson said. “But the funny thing was, even at 5-2, both of them were having a huge impact on the game, and two of the better players on the court.”

McClure broke out that game, scoring 25 points and hitting seven 3-pointers in an 80-70 Maranacook win. Last year, the Black Bears got the best of the Rams again, with McClure scoring 14 and McCormick adding 12 in a 72-60 final.

On Dec. 27, however, Cony beat Maranacook 92-89, with McCormick scoring 33 points, McClure scoring 24 and both players showing just how far they’d come since that first matchup.

Maines is impressed with how McClure approaches the game, and how he sets himself up for success.

“I love watching Cash play,” he said. “He understands angles and positioning, and when he has someone off balance, he takes advantage of it. … He can make shots. He has a really good understanding of where to get to his shots and how to get to his shots. He puts an incredible amount of time into his game.”

Magnusson acknowledged McCormick’s offensive skills, but said he’s just as dangerous — if not more so — on the other end.

I think he’s the best defensive player I’ve ever coached against,” he said. “He changes the game defensively. … We have to spend a couple of days every time before we play them, just focusing on him and what he’s going to do defensively.”

Saturday was the latest chapter in the series between the two, but it was also a finale. McCormick’s a senior this year, and the Class A Rams won’t meet the Class B Black Bears in the playoffs.

Pity. Because seeing those two face off never gets old.

“I’ve coached very few kids, high school or college, that have a feel for the game like Simon,” Maines said. “I see those same things with (McClure). He understands the game very well. Then when you add the skills that they have, it’s a great combination.”

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