With the high school basketball tournaments less than three weeks away, the battle for Heal Points intensifies.
The postponements caused by Tuesday’s winter storm have created a lot of scrambling among the schools leading up to a Friday that features an intriguing list of schoolgirl matchups in the North region.
Four Friday games involve interleague contests.
One features a defending state champion against a defending regional titlist as Narraguagus of Harrington won the state C crown and will entertain defending Class D North titlist Shead of Eastport. Shead is 12-1 and atop the Class D North points while Narraguagus is 10-4 and eighth in Class C.
A win would give Narraguagus a significant bump in the standings as just 11 points separated No. 4 Fort Kent from No. 9 Dexter.
Shead beat Narraguagus 44-33 a week ago.
Hampden Academy sits in fourth place in Class A at 8-4 and will visit Class AA Bangor (6-6), which occupies fifth place. Bangor has won three in a row and four of five entering a Wednesday game against undefeated Gorham.
Hampden beat Bangor 54-33 on Dec. 30.
Gardiner, 9-3 and sixth in Class A, visits 11-1 Oxford Hills of South Paris, second in AA, and Winslow (9-2, seventh in Class B), invades Newcastle for a rematch with Class B South Lincoln Academy (8-4, No. 6 in the South). The Eagles dealt the Black Raiders a 49-39 setback last Friday.
There is no shortage of meaningful intraleague games, either, starting with neighbors Dexter and Piscataquis Community High of Guilford.
Dexter and PCHS are separated by just 11 miles and there will be plenty of Heal Points at stake when they renew their rivalry on Friday in Dexter. PCHS is in second place in Class C at 10-2, including a 34-27 win over Dexter on Dec. 30, while the Tigers are ninth at 7-4.
Hermon entertains Foxcroft Academy for an attractive Class B battle between the teams that are second and third in the standings, respectively.
Hermon took an 11-2 record into a Wednesday night game at Orono and the Hawks were coming off a 58-51 double-overtime road loss to undefeated top seed Houlton and Monday’s 44-43 win over Central at Corinth.
Foxcroft (10-3) has strung together three impressive wins over Dexter (38-37), Mount Desert Island (57-46) of Bar Harbor and Presque Isle (51-49).
Hermon beat the Ponies 58-42 at Dover-Foxcroft on Dec. 20.
Also in Class B North, Hancock County neighbors MDI and Ellsworth head north to take on Presque Isle and Caribou in Aroostook County.
Presque Isle is 8-4 and in fifth place, MDI is 8-5 and eighth, while 10th-place Ellsworth is 6-7 and Caribou (4-9) holds down the final potential preliminary round spot in 12th place.
Ellsworth and Caribou square off on Friday as do MDI and Presque Isle before Ellsworth travels to Presque Isle on Saturday and MDI visits Caribou for 1 p.m. contests.
Presque Isle has already picked up road wins at Ellsworth (59-52) and MDI (58-44) while Caribou lost to both teams: 57-49 to MDI and 53-43 to Ellsworth.
MDI snapped a three-game losing streak against Hermon, Foxcroft and Presque Isle with a victory over Central. Ellsworth and PI have each won four of their last five and Caribou has two wins in its last three games.
In Class D, Aroostook County rivals Central Aroostook of Mars Hill and Ashland, who began the week third and fourth in the Heal Points standings, respectively, square off at Ashland.
Ashland, 7-6 including a 36-29 win at Mars Hill on Jan. 7, has won four of five while 9-3 Central Aroostook had won three of four entering a Wednesday game against Class C Limestone Community School/Maine School of Science and Mathematics.