Maranacook’s Casey Cormier tries to get past Wells defender Hayden Barker during the Class B South final last Friday in Portland. Portland Press Herald photo by Shawn Patrick Ouellette

READFIELD — You can bet Maranacook boys basketball coach Travis Magnusson and Caribou coach Kyle Corrigan watched plenty of film while preparing for the Class B state championship game.

You can also bet that, had they wanted to, they could have just looked in a mirror and gotten the same answers.

“In my opinion, we’re like a spitting image of each other,” Corrigan said.

It’s a common sentiment shared as the 19-2 Black Bears and 20-1 Vikings get set to meet on the Cross Insurance Center floor. Maranacook can score, and so can Caribou. Both teams like to play aggressively. And both teams like to push the pace.

“It makes for a good game,” Corrigan said. “We both definitely like to get up and down the floor, no doubt about that. I think they averaged 73 or 74 (points) on the season, we averaged 72 and a half or 73 on the season. It’s got the ability to be an up-tempo game.”

As those numbers would suggest, both teams have a variety of key players to stop. For Maranacook, Cash McClure is the main offensive threat, but Tim Worster was the top scorer for most of the run through the B South playoffs, and Casey Cormier was the team’s leader as the Black Bears closed out Wells in the regional final. For Caribou, Parker Deprey is the top weapon, but Sawyer Deprey and Alex Bouchard have the ability to make Maranacook pay as well.

“They’re really good. … They play very well together, they pass well, they’ve got a couple of great players. They’ve got a bunch of guys who can shoot and get to the rim,” Magnusson said. “They’re better or as good as anybody we’ve played this year, so it’s going to be a heck of an atmosphere. I would be surprised if it wasn’t packed.”

There are some key differences though. The teams look nearly identical on offense but not on defense, where Maranacook plays a variety of schemes and concepts whereas Caribou sticks primarily with a man-to-man tactic.

The Black Bears’ ability to rack up points got them headlines. But Magnusson said its the commitment on defense, which took a little longer, that has made them a championship-caliber team.

We just had to get better defensively, that’s one thing we really did,” he said. “I just think we’re playing more together too, but it all started with our defense.”

Corrigan said the game will hinge on how well his players figure out what Maranacook is doing in its own end.

“I think we’ve just got to stay composed. They’re going to try to throw a bunch of different things at us, I think,” he said. “I think it’s just really that we need to understand what they’re throwing at us. We don’t want to rush. We like to get up and down, but we don’t want to force anything.”

The other difference is the experience factor. Caribou won the state championship last year, and brought almost all of that team back. The Vikings will be ready for the game, and they’ll be ready for whatever direction the game takes from the opening tip.

“I think there’s just a little bit less pressure. Last year we had the 50-year drought hanging over our head,” Corrigan said. “Most of our seniors and some of our juniors have been here before, they played in the game last year. They’ve had a really good approach to the postseason this year. There’s been a lot more focus, and they know what they have to do in practice.”

Maranacook doesn’t have that experience, but Magnusson sees a positive there. After playing the South tournament as the No. 1 seed, the Black Bears for the first time will be able to play the underdog role.

“There’s been a lot of pressure on these kids,” he said. “There’s some pressure to get to this point, and now mostly everybody, media and other places and different things, think Caribou’s going to win, think Caribou’s one of the top teams.

“I think there’s some pressure taken off, now that they’re playing a game most people think they’re not going to win, even though we think we’re going to win, we think we’re going to do well. The outside pressure is definitely not there right now.”

Magnusson said he hasn’t seen a reason this playoffs to think that his team will be the one to blink in a pressure situation.

“This team has played the best under pressure,” he said. “Caribou’s really good, but we want to play the best, because we think we’re as good as anybody in the state, any class, too.”

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