Girls teams seek to improve tourney position in final week

The final week of regular-season action in high school basketball has arrived and with it, plenty of North girls teams are attempting to enhance their tournament seeding.

Bangor did that on Saturday afternoon with a home victory over reigning Class A state champion Lawrence of Fairfield, which vaulted coach Joe Johnson’s club into third place in Class AA north with two games remaining.

The top six teams in Class AA  North qualify for the tournament with the top two –currently Oxford Hills of South Paris and Edward Little of Auburn — earning first-round byes.

The Rams put together a stingy defensive effort in earning their win over Lawrence, while Katie Butler and Lauren Young paced a balanced offense with 12 points each.

Bangor’s last two games are road contests at Class A unbeaten Messalonskee of Oakland and Class AA Lewiston. Two wins could give the Rams a chance to sneak into a No. 2 slot in Class AA.

Defending state champion Houlton has solidified the top slot in Class B North, but a throng of other teams are slugging it out to be among the top four teams who will bypass the preliminary round and head straight to the Cross Insurance Center.

One of them is Hermon, which entertains Houlton to close out its regular season on Wednesday night in a rematch of a 58-51 contest the Shiretowners won in January.

Foxcroft Academy put itself in position to earn a top-four spot with a recent victory over Hermon, and the Ponies could hold onto it if they win their last two games against Orono and Central of Corinth.

Right behind Foxcroft sits Winslow, which has road contests remaining against Morse of Bath and Erskine Academy of South China. The Ponies and Black Raiders appear on a collision course for a quarterfinal clash in Bangor, provided one of them wins a home preliminary contest.

On the other side of the bracket, Mount View of Thorndike and Caribou are close in the battle for the 12th and final postseason position.

The Mustangs picked up a pointworthy win over Waterville on Feb. 2 and close out the regular season against Lincoln Academy of Newcastle and Skowhegan.

Caribou has only one contest left, a home game against archrival No. 2 Presque Isle on Wednesday, a game the Vikings will likely have to win to slip into the playoffs.

Stearns of Millinocket has all but wrapped up the No. 1 slot in Class C, with George Stevens of Blue Hill, Piscataquis of Guilford and Madawaska all holding down the top four positions.

The Owls jumped up to fourth with a three-point win over Class D contender Central Aroostook of Mars Hill on Saturday, and on Monday avenged their only loss of the season with a 49-40 win over St. John Valley rival Fort Kent, which entered Monday’s play seventh.

Woodland, which entered Monday in fifth place, concludes its season against reigning Class D state champion Shead of Eastport, and a win there could put the Dragons in a position to bypass the prelim round.

Meanwhile, the teams in the Nos. 6-9 positions — Calais, Fort Kent, Narraguagus of Harrington and Dexter — entered Monday separated by a mere four Heal Points.

Highlighted games send Class B Houlton to Calais and Dexter hosting Stearns, so you may see some jostling of positioning by the end of the week as that quartet battles for a home playoff game.

Southern Aroostook of Dyer Brook and Shead have the top two positions wrapped up in Class D, but Washburn, Katahdin of Stacyville, Jonesport-Beals and East Grand of Danforth, which occupy seeds 7 through 10, all have a chance to host prelims.

The top six Class D finishers head straight to Bangor.

Buckle up. It’s going to be a wild right that may only get crazier once the ball is tipped in Augusta and Bangor next week.

Ryan McLaughlin

About Ryan McLaughlin

BDN sports reporter Ryan McLaughlin grew up in Brewer and is a lifelong fan of the New England Patriots, Boston Red Sox, Boston Celtics and Boston Bruins. In "The Boston Blitz" he'll be sharing his perspective with BDN readers about what's happening on the Boston professional sports scene.