Richmond’s Izzy Stewart, center, defends against Carrabec’s Molly Hay, left, as Karen Baker waits to set a screen during a girls basketball game Dec. 15 in North Anson. Mike Mandell/Morning Sentinel

In six years as the North Yarmouth Academy girls basketball team’s head coach, Tom Robinson can’t remember a field like this.

As a member of the Western Maine Conference, Robinson’s NYA team usually comes to the Augusta Civic Center unfamiliar with many of the teams, which have predominantly hailed from the Mountain Valley Conference. This year, though? The Panthers have played five of the quarterfinalists.

“We’ve played everybody here except Madison (and Richmond), which is kind of unusual,” Robinson said. “In the Western Maine Conference, you really didn’t get any games against those teams in other conferences, but with the way the conferences have opened up, we’ve gotten that chance this year.”

Yes, conference scheduling changes and realignments over the past couple years have paved the way for a more cohesive Class C South. Rematches from the regular season and common opponents, while not ubiquitous, are plenty as teams representing three different conferences get set for Tuesday’s action.

Four of the eight teams hail from the MVC, and the quarterfinals, coincidentally, pit them against each other. No. 2 Hall-Dale (17-1) will take on No. 7 Winthrop (13-6) at 5:30 p.m. while fourth-ranked Madison (15-3) faces No. 12 Monmouth Academy (9-10), which upset Sacopee Valley in the prelims, at 7.

Led by a 1,000-point scorer in Hayden Madore, Hall-Dale has emerged as a behemoth in Class C South. The Bulldogs’ only loss this season came in a Jan. 15 road defeat against Spruce Mountain, a Class B squad that’s currently 17-2. Since then, Hall-Dale has won 12 straight, all by double digits.


“They’re good, they’re deep, and they’re long,” said Winthrop head coach John Baehr, whose team lost 72-19 to Hall-Dale on Dec. 27. “I know the Heals say NYA is the 1 seed, but I’d say Hall-Dale is the favorite in the tournament. They’re big, and they rebound well, so it’s a tough matchup for us.”

Madison enters the other MVC matchup having lost three of its past five after a 13-0 start to the season. Those five losses came against the toughest part of the Bulldogs’ schedule as the team dropped road contests to Hall-Dale and Spruce Mountain before dropping a tight one to Maranacook in Readfield.

Madison’s Mackenzie Robbins (15) dribbles the ball while Maranacook’s Alice Ferran (23) applies defensive pressure in a girls basketball game Jan. 9 in Madison. Anna Chadwick/Morning Sentinel

Madison boasts a potent scorer in Mackenzie Robbins, an elite on-ball defender in Raegan Cowan and a top rebounder in Jacey Moody. Against Monmouth, the Bulldogs face a team that’s gone 9-4 since starting the season 0-6 and challenged them in the regular season before Madison caught fire in a 57-35 win.

“They’re a pretty tough, physical team,” said first-year Madison head coach Adam Rich. “They played a little zone on us and gave us some problems. I think it was a two-point game at halftime before we pulled away a little bit. They’ve got some athletes, so it’s not going to be an easy win for us; we have to bring our A-game.”

The winner of that game will face either NYA, powered by Graça Bila, or Carrabec, fueled by a 1,000-point scorer in Molly Hay. The Panthers, whose lone loss this season came to Hall-Dale (61-38) on Jan. 27, beat the Cobras 76-31 and 55-31 in the regular season. NYA and Carrabec close out the evening session at 8:30.

“The first game we caught them by surprise — we played them in Waterville, and they were on a back-to-back — but the second time, they were up at halftime, and I don’t think we took the lead until the end of the third,” Robinson said. “(Hay) is maybe the best player in their conference. You can’t overlook them.”


The lone quarterfinal matchup that isn’t a regular season rematch is Tuesday’s opener between No. 3 Richmond (16-2) against No. 6 Poland (13-6) at 4. It’s a battle of two red-hot teams with the Bobcats having won eight straight and the Knights also winners of eight straight and 13 of 14.

Richmond brings in one of the region’s most consistent players Izzy Stewart, who’s averaging roughly 22 points and 11 rebounds per game. The Bobcats could use those kinds of numbers from the senior forward in what could very well be the closest of the four C South girls matchups.

“They’re fairly quick and athletic, so it should be a good matchup,” Richmond head coach Mike Ladner said of Poland. “We’re going to have to stay out of foul trouble, we’re going to have to play smart, and we’re going to have to take each possession one possession at a time and play clean basketball.”

Poland is a new addition to Class C South, dropping down from Class B under the new win-percentage criteria after managing just nine wins from 2018-19 to 2022-23. Led by guard Thea Thornton, the Knights have managed a remarkable turnaround after going winless last season.

As for the team to beat, Winthrop’s Baehr isn’t the only head coach that likes Hall-Dale to cut down the nets Saturday. Even if the Bulldogs are ranked second in the Heals, Robinson, Rich and Ladner all think they’re the favorites to win a second Southern Maine championship in three years.

“They’re the team that jumps out at you,” Ladner said. “They’ve already played NYA and Madison, and I won’t say they beat them easily, but they did win handily. Even though they’re the 2 seed, I feel like they’re the team to beat. They’re going to be a tough out.”

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