Valley’s Madeline Hill gets past a pair of Islesboro defenders during a Class D South quarterfinal game last season at the Augusta Civic Center. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

It’s a new year and a new Maine high school basketball tournament.

But for the Class D South tournament, familiar faces sit atop the region.

For the girls, Valley (18-0) returns as the No. 1 seed. The Cavaliers have had a dominant year, with their closest contest being a 62-55 victory over Class C Richmond in the regular season on Dec. 9.

“We’re happy with our regular season,” Valley head coach Gordon Hartwell said. “They worked hard, improved throughout the year and we’re looking forward to going down to Augusta again.”

Madeline Hill has consistently been among Valley’s top scorers, along with Kiersten Bigelow and Liana Hartwell. Gordon Hartwell attributed part of Valley’s success to the development of the team’s post players.

“In past seasons, our post play wasn’t enough,” Hartwell said. “The contributions from Surata Wright, Rylee Clark and Brianna Mills, those three have really stepped up in the post position. That’s really a big piece of our turnaround.”


This is third straight season Valley earned the No. 1 seed in the D South tournament. The Cavaliers have made steady progress through the tournament each of the past two seasons, reaching the semifinals in 2022 and the regional final last year. Though they are young, Hartwell said the Cavs have what it takes to reach the state final.

It won’t be an easy journey. Waynflete (13-5) is the No. 2 seed, while an improving Forest Hills (13-5) enters as the No. 3 seed.

“Waynflete is the big one, they’ve got good players from the inside out,” Hartwell said. “They’ve got a real good point guard in (Lucy) Hart, good post players. I think their two wings are solid shooters. They’re a good team.”

The Tigers have received well-rounded output from their starting five this season, with Addison Chaisson, Kylie Yu, Allie Dunning and Carli Frigon each making an impact.

“They’re a pretty hungry group of girls, they’ve put in the work,” Forest Hills head coach Bob Manix said. “Our big strength is we’ve had a lot of team (success) this year. We’ve had a lot of individual success before, but this year we’ve had a lot of team success, a lot of teamwork. I think that’s been our (mantra), everybody puts the work in together.”

No. 4 St. Dominic (10-8), No. 5 Greenville (7-8), No. 6 Pine Tree Academy (8-9), No. 7 Islesboro (8-10) and No. 8 Telstar (7-11) round out the field.


“Telstar is a tough out, because they’re used to playing good competition (in the Mountain Valley Conference),” Hartwell said. “Let’s just say that we’re not looking by anybody. If you do, you’ll get the chance to watch everybody else the next day.”

In the boys tournament, Valley (14-4) enters as the No. 1 seed. Little has gone wrong for the Cavaliers, who went 13-1 in its final 14 games, with a 56-55 loss to Class C Monmouth Academy being the only blemish during that stretch. The Cavaliers last won a Class D title in 2016.

“It was a good regular season,” Valley head coach Mike Staples said. “Overall, I’m happy. There’s always something to be worked on, little things that can be fixed. But overall, I’ve been really happy with the play over the course of the year.”

It doesn’t take much to find Valley’s top two scorers. Harry Louis and Fisher Tewksbury, both sophomores, eclipsed the 1,000-point career scoring mark in the same game this season, a 73-35 victory over Islesboro at Thomas College in Waterville on Feb. 2.

Southern Aroostook defender Dylan Burpee, left, blocks the shot of Forest Hills’ Cooper Daigle during the Class D boys basketball championship game last season at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel

For Staples, maturity on the floor has been one of the biggest strengths for the Cavaliers this season.

“Most of our talent is young, and it’s taken a couple of years to get a little bit of age on us, to learn and so forth” Staples said. “This is the first year I really feel like we’re starting to see that maturity… As the season has gone on, we’ve seen that get better and better and better. The maturing process is really starting to kick in and it’s starting to make a difference in our ability to compete.”


Much like the girls, the boys tournament doesn’t lack contenders. St. Dominic (17-1) sits as the No. 2 seed. The only loss the Saints suffered during the regular season was a 58-51 at Waynflete on Feb. 7.

Forest Hills (13-5), which has reached the Class D final each of the past two seasons, is the No. 3 seed. The Tigers, who last won a Class D title in 2020, ended the regular season with a five-game win streak. Forest Hills’ five losses have either come to Valley or Class C competition.

“We’re happy with our season,” Forest Hills head coach Anthony Amero said. “We lost two big starters (from last season) and increased our strength of schedule, which can be a recipe for disaster. But we finished 13-5 and I’m proud of our kids for that, starting a freshman and an eighth grader in the mix.”

In previous years, the Tigers have been led by strong guard play from brothers Mason and Parker Dejardins. This season, the post play has stood out, led by Cooper Daigle.

“He’s had some good games against good opponents,” Amero said. “He can post up players with his back to the basket, and he’s such a rugged kid. He draws a lot of fouls and a lot of contact down low. And that opens everything up, because if you’re going to guard him, you have to double him.”

Speaking of Desjardins, Forest Hills is carrying yet another one on the roster, this time with guard Jaxson Desjardins.


“With one solid post and three good shooters, we kind of work from the inside out this year, and that’s been good for us, because if you take that away, we have good perimeter shooting,” Amero said.

No. 4 Buckfield (9-9), No. 5 Wiscasset (9-9), No. 6 Temple Academy (9-9), No. 7 Telstar (6-12) and No. 8 Islesboro (8-10) round out the field.

“We certainly have a lot of respect for Forest Hills, they’ve got so much experience,” Staples said. “They’re a team that’s won tremendously. When you’ve built that winning attitude, all the kids have it, and they think every time they go on the floor that they can win.

“When you get on the floor (in Augusta) anything can happen,” Staples continued. “As far as the teams we don’t know well, we’ve got a lot of respect for St. Dom’s. We scouted them and watched them play. They’re certainly a great team. I’m not sure where we’re going to fall with them, but they seem like a force that’s going to have to be reckoned with.”

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