Top-ranked Hawks a model of soaring consistency

Hermon High School’s status as one of just four undefeated boys basketball teams left in the state this winter — Portland, Greely of Cumberland Center and Hall-Dale of Farmingdale are the others — should come as no surprise.
The Hawks were the No. 1 team in Class B North last winter before being ousted by No. 4 Orono in the regional tournament semifinals.
The Hawks returned all but one reserve from last year’s team, plus added a transfer that has addressed one of the biggest issues from that tournament loss in 6-foot-6 senior Jacob Godfrey, who last year helped Machias win the Class D state championship.
“When we played Orono last year — and I remember this vividly — they killed us on the boards,” said Hermon senior guard Keenan Marseille. “Jacob being here gives us a whole different environment, a whole different everything because he can get all the boards.
“He also gives the rest of us that much more space to do what we want to do as guards, and then we can get him the ball in the post and he’s almost automatic down there as long as his confidence is up.”
Adding Godfrey to a lineup that otherwise averages 6-2 has presented a rangy defensive challenge that no team yet has been able to solve fully as the Hawks have returned to the top of the Heal point ratings.
The 10-0 Hawks have yielded just 39.9 points per game through Monday’s 68-40 victory over Washington Academy. Just two opponents have scored more than 50 points — WA had 53 in their earlier meeting with Hermon at East Machias on Dec. 15 and No. 2 Presque Isle scored 56 in an overtime loss at Hermon on Dec. 30.
Hermon’s defense has grown even stingier since that close call, with the Hawks allowing just 34.2 points per game in their last five wins.
“I think our roles are starting to really come together,” said Hermon coach Mark Reed, whose team is scoring 63.8 points per outing. “The kids are really embracing the roles each of them has on the team and they’re getting better at them every day. That’s an area I’m really pleased with, and I think they’ll continue to get better.”
While many of the names — Marseille, Godfrey, Isaac Varney, Cody Hawes, Garrett Trask and Jordan Bishop — are familiar to eastern Maine basketball fans, the team’s depth may become an even bigger factor in Hermon’s pursuit of its first regional championship since 2002.
Reed considers this one of the deepest teams he’s coached in nearly two decades as a head coach at Brewer and Hermon, though employing a rotation of as many as 10 players can be challenging.
“It took us as coaches a little time to figure out how that was going to work because we do have a lot of parts,” he said. “The kids have been very accepting of it from the beginning, it’s just how you put the puzzle together and how does the team look when you figure it out.
“I still don’t think we’re completely there yet, but it’s definitely something we’re getting more comfortable with and the team is starting to understand better.”
That effort is compounded by the versatility within the roster, with the majority of the players able to contribute at multiple positions.
“There’s a challenge to make sure everybody is getting needed time in valuable game situations,” Reed said. “There’s also a challenge to get kids who play multiple positions time at all of those positions because you never know late in the season who will need to fit into what spots on the floor. That’s the real challenge, trying to make sure everybody gets those minutes at the appropriate positions.”
Hermon is in the middle of its toughest stretch of regular-season games, having already defeated No. 5 Oceanside of Rockland-Thomaston 63-41 last Friday before Monday’s win over No. 6 Washington Academy.
The Hawks were scheduled to play their rematch at Oceanside on Thursday night before a highly anticipated home game Saturday against No. 3 Mount Desert Island of Bar Harbor, the defending Class B state champion and 8-1 this season.
“The kids have done a really good job this year of taking one game at a time and not looking too far ahead,” said Reed. “We’ve tried to preach to them to just stay focused on improving tonight and then we’ll come back to practice tomorrow and try to get better again.
“I think every kid anticipates certain games that are coming on their schedule, but they’ve done a good job of staying focused and staying on task.”

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.