Forest Hills fans rejoice as their girls basketball team pulls ahead of Valley during a Class D South girls basketball semifinal Thursday at the Augusta Civic Center. Andy Molloy/Kennebec Journal

AUGUSTA — Forest Hills has a chance to bag two basketball titles in one day, and the town of Jackman is set to coat the Augusta Civic Center in orange and black.

The Forest Hills boys and girls teams — and, presumably, a good chunk of the Jackman townspeople — are making the 2-hour, 100-mile trek to the Civic Center on Saturday for the Class D South championship games. The top-seeded boys face No. 2 Valley (3:15 p.m.) and the fourth-seeded girls oppose No. 3 Seacoast Christian (1:30 p.m.).  The winners advance to the state final March 5 in Portland.

“Jackman’s going to be insane on Saturday,” first-year Forest Hills girls coach Bob Manix said Thursday, minutes after the Tigers knocked off No. 1 Valley, 34-29, in the D South semifinals at the Civic Center. “I’m so ready to see a sea of orange and black; it’s going to be insane. I’m pretty sure come Monday morning, the teachers are still going to be pretty sad not being able to teach class and get an extra day off.”

The undefeated boys (20-0), who won state titles in 2019 and ’20, swept the season series with Valley, an East-West Conference rival, by scores of 87-40 on Dec. 21 and and 83-34 on Jan. 4.

Junior guard Mason Desjardins has paced the Tigers during the tournament. He scored 31 points, including 24 on eight 3-pointers, in Saturday’s 78-39 quarterfinal win over Seacoast Christian. He followed that up with a team-high 21 points four days later in a 61-41 semifinal win over Greenville.

Valley (12-4), which last won a state title in 2016, counters with youth; the Cavaliers’ starting five features a junior, two sophomores and two eighth-graders. One eighth-grader, Fisher Tewksbury, netted 24 points in Wednesday’s 62-42 semifinal win over Pine Tree Academy, and the other, Harry Louis, added 12.


Forest Hills sophomore Braidan Welch tries to make a play between Greenville defenders Dominick Murray, left, and Ocean Turner during a Class D South boys basketball semifinal game Wednesday at the Augusta Civic Center. Andy Molloy/Kennebec Journal

“We’re just blessed with these young kids that are working hard and getting better all the time,” Valley coach Mark Staples said.

Forest Hills boys coach Anthony Amero said he knows Valley well.

“We’ve seen them since fifth grade with some of those kids coming up,” Amero said. “It’s a very good Valley team, we don’t care what grade they’re in, we just know that they’re good. And we know that one of us gets the opportunity to play for a state championship and that’s a special thing. I know they’re amped up, just like we are.”

While the Valley and Forest Hills boys are familiar with each other, it’s a different matter on the girls’ side, as Forest Hills and Seacoast Christian didn’t play each other in the regular season. The Tigers (13-7) have won nine of their last 11 following a five-game losing streak that left them 4-5 on Jan. 7. In last Saturday’s 35-25 quarterfinal win over Greenville, Kylie Yu scored 13 points, followed by Grace Allen (11 points) and Allie Duninng (10). Allen led the Tigers with 11 points in Thursday’s semifinal win.

Forest Hills’ Hailey Welch, right, collides with Valley’s Emily Collins during a Class D South girls basketball semifinal Thursday at the Augusta Civic Center. Andy Molloy/Kennebec Journal

Seacoast Christian (12-6) features the triple threat of Ellie Leech, Breckyn Winship and Kaitlyn Gandreau, who combined for 42 points in Thursday’s 47-35 semifinal win over No. 2 Rangeley.

 “There’s a little mystery to that game; we’ve never seen them,” Manix said. “They look pretty similar to what we are, so it’s going to be an interesting matchup in terms of figuring out what we can do different. I think it’s going to be a good, tight game.”


Seacoast Christian isn’t just a mystery to Forest Hills; it’s a bit of a mystery in its own town of South Berwick, on the New Hampshire border. Coach Lee Petrie, in his 34th year, is hoping to change that.

“For us to do this, a little school in South Berwick. … People in South Berwick don’t even know where the school is,” Petrie said. “It’s hidden behind a big hotel.

“It’s kinda neat walking into the locker room and they’re happy, but you can tell they were like, ‘OK, what’s the next step? Let’s go.’”

Forest Hills last won a girls state title in 2007, while Seacoast has yet to reach a championship game.

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