The George Stevens Academy boys basketball team has relied on a veteran starting lineup and a youthful bench to get off to a 3-0 start this season.
Juniors Taylor Schildroth, Max Mattson and Stefan Simmons and senior Jarrod Chase all played key roles as the Blue Hill-based Eagles won the 2016 Class C state championship this season, and all are back to lead the team’s title defense.
But several newcomers, particularly sophomores Percy Zentz and Reece Dannenberg and freshman Caden Mattson, have provided the bulk of the minutes off the bench so far along with senior Steven Wang.
The 6-foot-1 Zentz, a forward who has joined the veterans as the fifth starter, scored 13 points and grabbed eight rebounds to help coach Dwayne Carter’s club edge defending Class B North champion Ellsworth 74-67 on Friday night.
“I knew he was going to be a good player because he’s hard-nosed and rebounds really well,” said Carter. “He just has a good sense for the game. He’s not flashy but he does what he needs to do.”
GSA hopes to get a boost in depth and experience with the return to the lineup as soon as this week of senior guard Beckett Slayton, who has been sidelined with a back injury.
The 5-foot-11 Slayton, another veteran of the Eagles’ state championship run, will provide an infusion of perimeter shooting and defense upon his return, Carter said.
“That will make a big difference for us,” he added.
GSA returns to action Tuesday night with a home game against Bucksport.
Edward Little in fast start
Defending state champion Portland remains the clear favorite to repeat in the Class AA North boys ranks through the first full week of the season.
Coach Joe Russo’s Bulldogs are 3-0, including a season-opening 61-54 victory over South Portland in their rematch of the 2016 state final and a 72-50 win over Oxford Hills on Thursday night behind 18 points, six assists, five rebounds and four steals from Bangor Daily News All-Maine junior guard Terion Moss.
But Edward Little of Auburn and the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference is looking all the part of a primary challenger to Portland’s regional dominance three games into its schedule.
Coach Mike Adams’ club, which opened with a 58-42 win over visiting Bangor and then edged Oxford Hills 54-52 last Tuesday, opened some eyes in Greater Portland with a 62-54 win at Deering last Thursday.
Seniors Jarod Norcross-Plourde and Samatar Iman led the way for the Red Eddies, Norcross-Plourde with 22 points and Iman with 16 while junior Darby Shea added 15.
EL’s staying power near the top of the division will be tested this week with back-to-back games against undefeated opponents. The Red Eddies will host 3-0 Cheverus of Portland on Tuesday, then play at 3-0 Portland on Thursday.
Oceanside-Medomak, MDI-Hermon now Monday
The Class A North championship-game rematch that sends reigning title holder Oceanside of Rockland-Thomaston to Medomak Valley of Waldoboro postponed from Saturday now will be played at 5 p.m. Monday.
Both teams are undefeated, with Medomak Valley at 3-0 and Oceanside at 2-0, and the game will mark the first of back-to-back games against undefeated opponents for Medomak Valley, which is scheduled to play Tuesday at 3-0 Nokomis of Newport.
It will be a busy pre-Christmas week for both teams, with Medomak Valley also scheduled to host Camden Hills of Rockport on Friday while Oceanside has dates at home against Lawrence of Fairfield on Tuesday and then at 2-0 Belfast on Thursday.
Another key early season boys basketball game rescheduled from Saturday to Monday will send Mount Desert Island of Bar Harbor to Hermon for a 7 p.m. opening tipoff.
Both teams are 2-0, and along with Winslow and Belfast are the lone remaining unbeaten teams in Class B North.