Hampden, Hermon boys comfortably atop respective divisions; other teams scramble for positions

The Hampden Academy and Hermon boys basketball teams have staked out their turf atop the Class A North and B North Heal Point ratings as the regular season enters its final 11 days.

Hampden, 13-1 overall and undefeated in Class A games, goes into Tuesday’s home game against Medomak Valley of Waldoboro with a nearly 36-point lead over second-place Nokomis of Newport.

That’s despite the 10-5 Warriors riding a six-game winning streak that includes a victory at Bangor — the only team to defeat Hampden so far this season.

While Nokomis and 9-5 Skowhegan look on track to earn the Nos. 2 and 3 seeds for tournament play at the Augusta Civic Center, seven other schools — Camden Hills of Rockport, Medomak Valley, Gardiner, Brewer, Erskine Academy of South China, Cony of Augusta and defending regional champion Messalonskee of Oakland — are just nine points apart. Only five of those schools will be tourney bound when the regular season concludes on Feb. 8.

One example of the volatility within those ranks came with Brewer’s 39-38 victory over Skowhegan last Saturday. That win elevated the Witches, which had lost six of their previous games, from being out of the tournament picture to seventh place in a division that qualifies just eight teams for postseason play.

There are plenty of games remaining that could have similar significance.

Brewer, for instance, visits Class AA Bangor on Tuesday, hosts No. 9 Cony the next night and visits No. 4 Camden Hills at Rockport on Feb. 6.

In Class B, Hermon began the week as just one of two undefeated boys teams — along with defending Class A state champion Greely of Cumberland Center — statewide, but that status will be tested Tuesday night when the Hawks visit defending state champion and second-ranked Mount Desert Island of Bar Harbor.

Coach Mark Reed’s club (14-0) defeated the Trojans 46-35 in their earlier meeting at Hermon on Jan. 20.

Hermon has another test looming Saturday at No. 3 Presque Isle, which took the Hawks to overtime before falling 60-56 on Dec. 30.

Behind the top three in the division, three other clubs are vying for the other two preliminary-round byes as Oceanside, Ellsworth and Winslow are separated by 3.4 points in fourth, fifth and sixth place, respectively.

Ellsworth may be the hottest of the trio, with coach Peter Austin’s Eagles riding a six-game winning streak that includes a sweep of Aroostook County rivals Presque Isle and Caribou last weekend.

Ellsworth’s remaining schedule includes a home game against Class C leader and two-time defending state champion George Stevens Academy of Blue Hill on Friday night and the traditional regular-season finale at MDI on Feb. 8. Oceanside still has a date against Midcoast rival and Class A fourth seed Medomak Valley while Winslow faces Class A third seed Skowhegan on Tuesday night.

Four teams also begin the week within seven points of each other for the final three playoff berths in B North. Belfast, Maine Central Institute of Pittsfield and Foxcroft Academy currently are in, with Foxcroft less than two points ahead of 12th-place Orono heading into its makeup home game against Mount View of Thorndike on Monday.

Orono is at Presque Isle on Monday night, and the Red Riots lost by just four points to the PI when they met at Orono on Jan. 8.

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.