Lucas Harmon holds up the Gold Ball after the Monmouth Academy boys basketball team won the the Class C championship on March 2 at the Augusta Civic Center. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal

It’s a run that’s up there with the best any central Maine boys basketball team has put together in recent years.

Monmouth Academy didn’t just win the Class C state championship this year; the Mustangs went through fire. It took a rivalry quarterfinal victory; a semifinal victory in which it seemed doomed; and regional and state final victories over two juggernauts for Monmouth to claim a Gold Ball.

Yet here the Mustangs are, nearly four weeks removed from a state title game win over Mount View that capped off a three-year climb to the mountaintop. After losing in the last two Class C South title games, Monmouth went one further to win the first state championship in program history.

“It hasn’t really set in just yet, to be honest with you,” said Monmouth head coach Wade Morrill. “I think that’ll really start when we start gearing up for summer basketball, and you don’t have Sammy (Calder) or Lucas (Harmon) or Kyle (Palleschi) and are trying to move forward and build next year’s team.”

Led by Calder, a career 1,000-point scorer who averaged 23.1 points and 6.7 rebounds, Monmouth went 15-3 to clinch the No. 2 seed in C South. The Mustangs then won a 51-39 contest against rival Winthrop in the quarterfinals before claiming a 73-67 overtime win over Hall-Dale in the semis.

After that came two even tougher tests: Mt. Abram and Mount View. The Roadrunners had been near-consensus favorites to win C South since the year began, and even with a win, a matchup against a battle-tested Mount View team that ran roughshod over Class C North loomed.


Monmouth won both. First, the Mustangs won their first-ever regional title by holding off a furious Mt. Abram rally to earn a 46-43 victory. Then, in the state championship game against Mount View, Monmouth battled back from an early 14-2 deficit to win a 52-50 thriller and hoist the trophy.

“We showed so much mental toughness and resilience,” Morrill said. “I think it really started with that game against Hall-Dale. We were (down) nine points with four minutes to go, but Sammy just went to work on offense, and our team defense picked up. … When we needed it most, those boys just delivered. It was amazing.”

In Class A North, Messalonskee had a phenomenal season as it went 16-5 and fell one win short of its second regional title. The Eagles, who got 23.6 points and 13.4 rebounds per game from 6-foot-9 junior Merrick Smith, won nine straight games before falling to Hampden Academy 44-43 in the A North title game.

For much of the year, Messalonskee and Hampden had been chasing Mt. Blue for the top spot. Led by Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class A North Player of the Year Evans Sterling (24.1 points, 7.9 rebounds), the Cougars had the best start in program history at 13-0 before finishing the season 16-4.

Monmouth Academy’s Sammy Calder makes a move to the basket while being pressured by Mount View’s Wyatt Evensen during the Class C championship game March 2 at the Augusta Civic Center. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal

“It’s tough right now, but you look at what we did and it was really special,” Mt. Blue head coach Troy Norton said following a 45-36 loss to Messalonskee in the regional semis. “We had our most wins since 2012, our most regular season wins since 1997 and our best start ever. It’s definitely something we’ll remember.”

Nokomis had a solid season under first-year head coach Josh Grant, finishing 11-8. Rounding out the A North tourney field locally were Cony (7-12), which played much of the season with head coach Isaiah Brathwaite unavailable on medical leave, Lawrence (8-11) and Skowhegan (5-14). Gardiner finished 4-14.


It was a year of changes for Maranacook, which moved from the KVAC to the Mountain Valley Conference and swapped Class B South for B North. The Black Bears had a solid season at 15-4 but would lose to Mount Desert Island 60-52 in the Northern Maine quarterfinals.

Despite major personnel losses from a year ago, Winslow (13-7) returned to the Class B North quarterfinals. Aside from Maranacook, the Black Raiders were the lone area B North team to make the playoffs with Maine Central Institute (7-11) and Erskine Academy (5-13) failing to qualify and Mount View and Waterville dropping to Class C.

The lone area team in C North, Mount View (16-7) completed a dominant run to the regional title. Led by Noah Hurd (19.3 points, 3.5 assists and 4.1 steals), the Mustangs won their four Northern Maine tournament games by a combined 113 points to claim their first regional championship since 1987.

“We had a goal of playing in a state championship game, and we knew that was a realistic goal,” said Mount View head coach Brandon Hurd. “The camaraderie the boys had and the way they did something that hasn’t been done in 37 years where we are and rallied the community, it was just an amazing ride for us.”

Messalonskee forward Merrick Smith shoots against Mt. Blue during a Class A North boys basketball semifinal game on Feb. 21 at the Augusta Civic Center. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

In Class C South, Mt. Abram went 18-3 to earn its first regional final berth since 1970, the same year the school opened. Hall-Dale (12-9) and Carrabec (13-7) earned regional semifinal berths, and Richmond (16-3) and Winthrop (12-8) reached the quarterfinals. Madison (9-10) made the prelims after a 6-0 start.

Mt. Abram and Mount View also shared a historic moment when the two met for a crossover battle Feb. 5 in Thorndike. In that game, Mount View’s Hurd and Mt. Abram’s Payton Mitchell (21.3 points per game), both reached 1,000th career points in a 60-52 Mustangs victory.


“That was just awesome,” Brandon Hurd said. “We knew going into that game that there was potential for both players to get it, and the atmosphere here at Mount View that night was one of the best I’ve ever been a part of; it was just electric. It was great for both of those young to have that kind of stage.”

Hurd and Abram, though, weren’t the only two local players to reach 1,000 in the same game. Just three days earlier, Valley sophomores Harry Louis and Fisher Tewksbury had done the same, becoming just the third known set of teammates in state history to reach 1,000 in the same game in a 73-35 win over Islesboro.

That Valley team, by the way? The Cavaliers had a remarkable season of their own, going 17-5 and winning the Class D South championship for the first time since 2016. The team was undefeated against Class D competition prior to a 45-33 state championship game defeat against Bangor Christian.

Forest Hills, which had won the previous four Class D South championships, went 14-6 with a regional semifinal appearance. Temple Academy (9-10) also earned a spot in the regional quarterfinals, while Rangeley went 5-14 after having too few players to form a team a season ago.

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