Last year, Messalonskee High of Oakland went undefeated in winning the state Class A schoolgirl basketball championship.
But the departure of Bangor Daily News All-Maine Schoolgirl first team selection Sophie Holmes left the door wide open this season and entering Wednesday’s games, there were no fewer than five teams sporting 4-1 records in the division.
Messalonskee was 2-2.
Some of the teams were expected to be sitting among the upper echelon in the class but there have also been a couple of teams who have jumped out to surprising starts.
Medomak Valley of Waldoboro was 7-11 a year and missed out on the postseason. The Panthers have just two seniors but one of them is Gabrielle DePatsy, who came one rebound shy of averaging a double-double a year ago and has picked up where she left off this season.
Gardiner was 12-8 onm 2016-17 and graduated difference-makers Mary Toman and Lauren Chadwick. But Mike Gray’s Tigers have received important contributions from players like junior Aimee Adams and senior Logan Granholm en route to their 4-1 start.
Hampden Academy also finished up at 12-8 but the Broncos’ 4-1 start under first-year coach Nick Winchester hasn’t stunned anyone because Braylee Wildman, Marissa Gilpin, Sophia Narofsky and Brooklynn Scott comprise one of the most battle-tested senior classes in the state and when you add dominant center Bailey Donovan, it makes for a legitimate regional championship contender.
And Hampden Academy’s season-opening 67-29 victory at Messalonskee opened a lot of eyes.
The other two 4-1 teams, Skowhegan and Nokomis of Newport, were the second and third seeds a year ago with 14-4 records and returned key components to their impressive 2016-17 showings.
They met in the regional semifinals with Nokomis posting a 45-32 victory.
The Warriors then lost to Messalonskee in the final 55-39.
Skowhegan has avenged that loss with a 51-38 triumph over Nokomis in Newport 10 days ago.
Mike LeBlanc’s Indians have one of the state’s top junior classes with Sydney Ames, Annie Cooke, Sydney Reed, Mariah Dunbar and Alyssa Everett all having a lot of experience under their belts.
Nokomis features standout Chelsea Crockett.
In addition to Nokomis, Skowhegan has also dealt Hampden Academy its only loss, 47-38,
Skowhegan’s only setback came at the hands of Class B Maine Central Institute of Pittsfield, 60-58, on Dec. 22.
Nokomis handed Medomak Valley its only loss, 51-45, last Thursday and Medomak Valley is the only team to own a victory over Gardiner, 66-61, in its season-opener.
Gardiner will look to return the favor when it entertains Medomak Valley on Friday.
Hampden had a Wednesday game with Class AA Bangor.
Nokomis will travel to Messalonskee on Friday and Skowhegan will host a Lawrence of Fairfield team that took a 2-2 record into a Wednesday game against Brunswick.
Lawrence:, under first-year coach Greg Chesley, had only lost by six points at Hampden Academy and by nine to Oxford Hills of South Paris, the defending AA North titlist.
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