Surviving boys basketball unbeatens few as midseason approaches

BANGOR, Maine — 02/18/2017 — Hermon’s Isaac Varney drives up for two past Washington Academy’s Justin M. Vilone during Class B North basketball quarterfinal game at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor on Feb. 18, 2017.

Less than a month into the high school basketball season, just three boys squads remain unbeaten in the North.

Two-time defending Class AA state champion Portland (5-0), Class B Hermon (5-0) and Class D Woodland (7-0) carry unblemished records as the midpoint of the schedule approaches, with Hermon having to outlast Presque Isle in overtime last Saturday to maintain its mark while Woodland has made a successful transition back to Class D after qualifying for the Class C tournament last winter.

The paucity of unbeaten teams in the region in part the increased crossover play among the classes – Class A-leading Hampden Academy’s lone loss, for instance, came at Class AA Bangor while Class C Fort Kent’s only defeat came against Class B Caribou.

Here’s a look at some of the other surging teams in the region:

Class AA: While Portland has established itself as the clear team to beat, Windham has emerged as the Bulldogs’ top challenger. Led by the backcourt duo of Nick Curtis and Thomas College-bound Mike Gilman, the Eagles are 6-1 and winners of five straight since a 61-44 loss to Portland on Dec. 12. Bangor’s recent win over Hampden has propelled the 4-3 Rams into third place in the division, which is important because the top four teams in Class AA North will host tournament quarterfinals on their home courts next month.

Class A: No unbeatens here, but Hampden has defeated its first seven Class A foes by an average of 30.9 points. Two of those victims, Camden Hills of Rockport and Skowhegan, have rebounded from losses to the Broncos in strong fashion. Each owns a three-game winning streak, with 5-2 Skowhegan set to host Hampden on Friday night.

Class B: Hermon’s unbeaten record is good for just third place in the North behind Mount Desert Island and Presque Isle heading into Wednesday night’s home game against Orono, but the Hawks’ talent and depth bodes well for their ability to remain at the top of the division. Defending state champion MDI, Presque Isle and Oceanside are a combined 14-4 to join Hermon in the top four, but another team to watch is 6-2 Washington Academy of East Machias, winner of four straight since back-to-back losses to Hermon and MDI.

Class C: This may be the deepest division of all, with Piscataquis of Guilford, Bucksport and Dexter ranked 10th, 11th and 12th despite having just one loss apiece. Three County teams – Fort Fairfield, Central Aroostook of Mars Hill and Houlton – rest atop the standings, with Central Aroostook winning six in a row since a season-opening loss at Houlton after moving up from Class D. Lee Academy and two-time defending state champion George Stevens Academy of Blue Hill loom next along with Mattanawcook Academy of Lincoln, off to a 5-1 start back in Class C after winning just one game in Class B last winter. Penobscot Valley of Howland is 4-2 with statement wins in its last two outings that ousted Lee and Dexter from the unbeaten ranks, while Fort Kent has won four straight and will try to avenge its only loss to Caribou on Wednesday before games at Central Aroostook on Friday and at Fort Fairfield on Jan. 12.

Class D: Woodland has made the most of its shift by enrollment to Class D, with a five-point victory at Class C Calais the Dragons’ only victory by fewer than 17 points. Katahdin of Stacyville (6-2) has won five straight to draw within less than two Heal points of Woodland at the top of the standings, while Jonesport-Beals also looks to be back in the mix with its 5-1 start including a 15-point victory at Katahdin.

Ernie Clark

About Ernie Clark

I'm a veteran sportswriter who has worked with the Bangor Daily News for more than a decade. A four-time Maine Sportswriter of the Year as selected by the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association, my coverage areas range from high school sports to mixed martial arts.