Maranacook’s Joey Dupont passes over Winthrop defenders during a game last month in Readfield. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal Buy this Photo

READFIELD — When a team has a Mr. Maine Basketball finalist in Cash McClure, a high-scoring guard in Casey Cormier and a shooter who can catch fire in Tim Worster, attention in the headlines can be pretty hard to come by.

For the guys toiling away down low in the post for the Black Bears, that suits them just fine.

They don’t get the limelight that the guards do, but power forward Eljas Bergdahl and center Joey Dupont have been just as big a reason the Black Bears are 14-0 going into the central Maine tournament final with Skowhegan on Thursday. They’re the unsung tough guys, the ones who rebound and block and take on the opponent’s most difficult matchup, and the harder the games get, the more their contributions stand out.

“They’re both critical to everything we do,” coach Travis Magnusson said. “The biggest key in high school basketball is rebounding. If you can’t rebound, you’re not going to beat anybody. Those two do a great job of rebounding and guarding other teams’ bigs.”

Dupont averaged eight points and nine rebounds per game in the regular season, while Bergdahl averaged eight points and seven boards. It’s work without glory, and they’re OK with that.

Maranacook senior Eljas Bergdahl, left, gets advice from coach Travis Magnusson during a central Maine tournament semifinal game Tuesday in Readfield. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal Buy this Photo

“We don’t play with egos, we play to win,” Bergdahl said. “We’re totally fine with taking that gritty role, that defensive role, or just being the guy that gets the rebounds and the extra possessions. That’s kind of our mentality.”

Dupont is the team’s anchor inside and often the strongest player on the court, but also quick enough to jump on any rebounds and put back outside shots that go astray.

“Joey is extremely athletic. He’s one of our fastest players,” Magnusson said. “But when you actually try to move him, he is so strong and so tough to push around inside. When he gets position, he’s hard to stop.”

Dupont became an excellent receiver for the football team, and those skills often show up when he goes for a ball in the air.

“Having us in there is definitely important, and it’s a good complement to how our guards play,” Dupont said. “We’ll sit there, get offensive rebounds, follow shots, wait for a nice drive and kick, and they obviously know how to get it to us.”

Like Bergdahl, Dupont said playing under the radar isn’t a problem.

“They can get all the attention they want. We just want to win,” he said. “If we can chip in our couple of points a game, but rebound and always clog up the defensive end, we’ll do that for the team.”

Bergdahl usually gets the assignment of the opponent’s top post player. He’s smaller than Dupont, but just as tenacious.

“He’s a bulldog. He’s going to fight you every possession, whether it’s defense or offense,” Magnusson said. “He just plays with an extremely high motor. He goes non-stop, talks non-stop. He gives us another level of physicality.”

Bergdahl is also the team’s communicator on defense, making sure positioning and assignments are taken care of each trip back down the floor.

“Inside defense is where your leadership comes in,” Magnusson said. “Whoever’s guarding the center or the power forward has everybody in front of them, and they’ve got to be the guys that talk constantly. Eljas fills that role for us.”

Defense and rebounding can be thankless jobs, but Bergdahl embraces both.

“I get matched up with quite a variety of guys,” he said. “My goal is to hold them to as few points as possible, make everything hard on them, frustrate them, make life hard and limit them.”

They do get their moments to shine. Bergdahl is a good shooter who scored 19 points over the first two playoff games, and Dupont can heat up as well as anyone on the team, which he demonstrated by hitting four 3-pointers and scoring 17 points in the quarterfinal win over Gardiner.

It’s not just them — senior center Joe Albert came off the bench to score 14 points Tuesday against Messalonskee.

“Everybody on this team can score,” Bergdahl said. “It makes it a lot easier when you’ve got guys like Cash, guys like Casey, Tim, all kinds of other guys that need attention from the other teams. … It’s definitely easier to score when you’ve got two fantastic guards.”

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