Monmouth’s Sammy Calder pushes the ball up the court ahead of Winthrop defender Chan Rang during a Class C South boys basketball quarterfinal in Augusta on Feb. 19. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel

Sammy Calder noticed that Mt. Abram’s defense collapsed around him every time he drove to the basket.

He also realized, based on the way the game was being officiated Saturday, that he probably wasn’t going to get many calls if he kept driving. And, shooting wise, he wasn’t on fire.

The senior, a 1,000-point scorer in his career, processed all of that and found another way to help the Mustangs win Saturday’s Class C South final.

“Definitely I think ‘score’ when we’re on offense,” Calder said Wednesday. “But that game, especially in the second half, I kind of slowed down and like started to look, see the whole court more and look for opportunities more instead of trying to take the opportunity to score.”

He told teammates to make cuts along the baseline because they’d probably be open. They were, and he fed the ball to them a handful of times in the second half, helping the Mustangs build a double-digit lead.

“That won us the game,” senior Lucas Harmon said this week.


The Mustangs beat the Roadrunners 46-43 to earn the school’s first boys basketball regional championship.

Calder scored only five points, but he dished out eight assists and pulled down nine rebounds. After the game, Calder was named the C South tournament’s most outstanding player.

Monmouth (18-3) next faces C North champ Mount View (16-6) in the Class C title game Saturday at 8:45 p.m. at Augusta Civic Center.

Saturday’s regional final was the latest example of Sammy Calder coming up big in an important game.

“As long as I’ve known him, he’s kind of been a big-game player,” Mustangs coach Wade Morrill said.

In the fall, Calder scored the second goal in Monmouth’s 5-3 victory in the Class D boys soccer title game. Last spring, he pitched a complete-game shutout in the baseball team’s regional final win over then-unbeaten Sacopee Valley, then tossed a four-hit shutout as the Mustangs claimed the Class C baseball crown with a victory over Bucksport.


“In those big moments, he’s locked down. He’s really, really good mentally,” said Harmon, who also plays baseball and soccer with Calder. “The big moments are the best for Sammy because, you know, he kind of shuts everything out, and he just does what he needs to do.”

Calder also has top-notch talent and a top-notch work ethic.

“He’s a freak athlete,” Kyle Palleschi, another senior and three-sport teammate of Calder, said. “But it’s fun to play with him and everything because he picks up things really, really fast and when he, like, doesn’t pick up something he works really hard to make sure he understands it.”

Monmouth Academy’s Sammy Calder finds a teammate under the basket for a pass and a basket during Saturday night’s Class C South regional final against Mt. Abram at the Augusta Civic Center. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

Calder is Monmouth’s leading scorer with 23.4 points per game. He also averages 6.7 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 2 steals.

On Jan. 11, he became the second Monmouth player to score 1,000 career points.

“That was crazy,” Calder said. “I mean, I didn’t really think too much of it, I just really want to win states. But the thousand points is just, like, another thing to go on top of it all, I guess. It just, it’s a great feeling.”


Many throughout the state have noticed Calder’s excellence. A few weeks ago, he was selected as a semifinalist for the Mr. Maine Basketball award.

Morrill said the stats and the honors don’t mean much to Calder. In fact, the coach seems to marvel at how unselfish and unassuming the Mustangs’ star player is.

“All these things that have found him,” Morrill said, “really are just a byproduct of him trying to do the right things: work hard every day, be a good teammate and, you know, compete as hard as he can every time he steps on the floor or the court.”


The Monmouth seniors have been playing basketball together for years. Harmon said that when they were in middle school, they looked toward last year, their junior season, as the one that might be Monmouth’s year to finally win a regional and state title.

The 2022-23 Mustangs had seven seniors along with Calder, Harmon and Palleschi. The problem was that Dirigo also had seven seniors, and the Cougars bounced Monmouth in the regional final for the second consecutive season and went on to win their second straight state title.


Calder was the only returning player this year with significant varsity experience (Harmon and Palleschi spent time last year swinging between the JV and varsity teams).

Calder and Harmon both admitted that they didn’t know what to expect from this season’s team. They said their goal before the season was to win 12 games, make the postseason and see what happens.

Harmon and Palleschi have adapted to their increased roles. Sophomore point guard Aiden Oliveira has improved throughout the season. Junior Bingham Abbott has provided a spark off the bench.

Freshman Levi Laverdiere has been contributing from the beginning and is the team’s second-leading scorer at 13.4 points per game. Freshman Jake Harmon, Lucas’ little brother, has played a bigger role since late in the regular season, and he has averaged about seven points and seven rebounds in the playoffs.

Morrill said that the seniors’ leadership is one of the key reasons the inexperienced Mustangs exceeded their expectations in the regular season and now have exceeded the accomplishments of every other team in school history.

Palleschi said the mindset of the soccer team carried over into the basketball season.


“We might not have as much talent as everybody and we might not have as much experience like everybody else, but we’re just going to control what we can control and which is our work ethic,” Palleschi said. “And everything else just kind of falls into place after that.”

The Mustangs’ postseason path included wins over three rivals — Winthrop, Hall-Dale and Mt. Abram. Calder scored 15 of his 29 in the fourth quarter against the Ramblers, and 14 of his 35 in the fourth to help the Mustangs rally back and force overtime before beating the Bulldogs.

They face another difficult team in Saturday’s state final. Mount View faced a mostly Class B schedule — five of its six losses are to Oceanside, Lincoln or Medomak Valley, which earned three of the top four seeds in B South.

Mount View, also the Mustangs, have beaten the few Class C teams it has faced, including a 60-52 win over Mt. Abram on Feb. 5. Despite being the seventh seed, they rolled through the C North tournament with four wins by an average of 28.3 points.

Lucas Harmon said that a lot of the teams the Monmouth Mustangs have beaten are probably better than them, at least on paper.

“I think what’s special with this team is we got a lot of heart,” Harmon said. “That’s something we bring to the table that, you know, sets us apart. You look at our practices, you look at our leadership, we got heart, we work hard when it gets tough.”

Monmouth also has Sammy Calder.

“He has a strong will to win,” Morrill said. “And I think that when he’s on the court … the other guys around him just sort of believe that we can get it done. It doesn’t always have to be pretty, and we might have to grind it out, and, yeah, the other team’s pretty good too, but we’ll find a way.”

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