One boys high school basketball game scheduled for Saturday that might not have drawn a tremendous amount of attention when the season began could have major implications near the top of the Class B North standings.
The Presque Isle Wildcats, 5-1 and riding a five-game winning streak, will make their way to Corinth to face 6-1 Central in a 1:30 p.m. matchup of top-four teams in the division.
Third-ranked Presque Isle dropped its season opener at home to top-seeded Hermon but since then has gone undefeated, including a signature victory at No. 6 Ellsworth on Dec. 29 that was perhaps most noticeable because of its 23-point margin, 54-31.
Coach Terry Cummings’ club has been led offensively by seniors Brad and Jacob Kinney (first cousins) and junior guard Griffin Guerette, but its recent run has been fueled by a defensive effort that has yielded an average of just 41.0 points per game in its last four victories.
The ability to hold down opponents also has been a key to Central’s early season success, with coach Riley Donovan’s Red Devils allowing only 45.4 points per game in their first seven outings.
No. 4 Central boasts a veteran squad back from last year’s team that finished ninth in Class B North before falling to Belfast 72-54 in a preliminary-round game.
This year’s team has even higher hopes as led by senior swingman Caleb Shaw, senior guard Andrew Speed and 6-foot-5 classmates Dylan Gray and Ethan Mailman.
The Red Devils have bounced back from a 46-43 loss to Ellsworth in their second game of the season with five straight victories — most noticeably a 55-54 win at No. 5 Orono, a Class B North finalist last winter.
The Central-PI clash will be the first half of a doubleheader, with the schools’ girls varsity squads set to square off at 4:30 p.m. The Central girls (5-1) are ranked third in Class B North with Presque Isle (4-2) seeded sixth.
Central-Hermon games rescheduled
Speaking of Central, equally noteworthy games against Hermon that were postponed earlier this week have been rescheduled.
The boys game now will be played Wednesday, Jan. 18, with the girls matchup set for Monday, Jan. 23.
Hermon is the top-ranked team in both the Class B North boys and girls ranks. The Hawk boys are 7-1 after Thursday’s 60-39 win over Old Town, while the Hermon girls took a 6-1 record into Friday’s game at Old Town.
Unbeaten ranks dwindle
Only nine of the 72 boys varsity basketball teams in the five North divisions were still undefeated entering the weekend’s schedule, and two were scheduled to meet Friday night in Blue Hill.
That’s where Class C North top seed and defending state champion George Stevens Academy (8-0) was set to reach the midpoint of its regular season by hosting No. 4 Lee Academy.
Lee (5-0) had a close call Thursday night in its bid to remain undefeated as coach Randy Harris’ club held off Piscataquis of Guilford 54-52 behind a game-high 30 points from senior Nathan Gilman.
Now comes another lengthy trip for the Pandas, this time Down East to face a GSA team that has posted seven of its eight victories by double digits.
Other surviving unbeatens before Friday’s play were Class AA Edward Little of Auburn (7-0), Class A Medomak Valley of Waldoboro (8-0) and Hampden Academy (7-0), Class B Mount Desert Island of Bar Harbor (7-0) and Winslow (5-0), and Class D Southern Aroostook of Dyer Brook (7-0) and Machias (7-0).
In Classes A, B and D where two unbeatens still exist, potential Medomak Valley-Hampden, MDI-Winslow and Southern Aroostook-Machias showdowns will have to wait until tournament time since they don’t meet during the regular season.