Key players to watch and season outlooks for every local Maine high school boys basketball team.
CLASS A SOUTH
Coach: Bobby Pratt, 1st season
Last year’s result: 6-13, lost to Fryeburg in Class A South first round
Top returning players: Ian Bryant, sr., G; Sam Aiguier, sr., G; Cullen Casey, jr., F; Justin Bryant, jr., F
Other key players: Kye Williams, sr., G; Adam Doyon, sr., F; Drew Gregor, sr., F; John Valentine, jr., G
Outlook: New coach Pratt, who played for the program during some strong seasons more than a dozen years ago and takes over for Lewis Atkins, has preached defense throughout the preseason. “We’re really focusing on the defensive end,” said Pratt. “We have to be better defensively. If we can’t defend, we really won’t be able to be in the game.” … On the offensive end, Aiguier is the go-to guy, whom Pratt calls “our most consistent player.” The 6-foot-3 Casey, 6-foot-2 Doyon and 6-foot-4 Gregor provide the size inside. … The Hawks, who’ve won just 12 games total over the last two seasons, have a tough schedule to start, with the opener at home against Falmouth on Friday, and also games against York and Kennebunk in their first four.
Coach: Paul Marquis, 2nd season
Last year's result: 11-8, lost to Falmouth in Class A South quarterfinals
Top returning players: Chris Cummins, sr., G; Will MacDonald, jr., F; Riley Linn, jr., G; Riley Johnston, jr., F; Brady Cummins, soph., G
Other key players: Iain Welch, sr., F; Riley Henriques, sr., F; Jonathan Donovan, jr., G; Thomas Coughlin, soph., G; Teagan Hynes, soph., G; Tyler Rivers, jr., F
Outlook: The Wildcats return seven players who walked off the floor in last year’s season-ending, double overtime tournament loss to fourth-seeded Falmouth. … Chris Cummins and MacDonald have been named captains for the upcoming season, and Brady Cummins showed glimpses of high potential last year as a freshman, including a team-high 13 points in the tournament loss. … “I like the depth we’re showing,” Marquis said this week. “We’ve been really competitive in practice and they’re pushing each other in practice to get better every day.” … The Wildcats tip off the season on Friday at Class B Yarmouth and then face Gray-New Gloucester on Tuesday in the home opener. … “The schedule is a difficult one,” Marquis said. “It’s going to be a dog fight every night, but I think we certainly have expectations to make the tournament and make a run deeper than the one game we had last year.”
CLASS AA SOUTH
Coach: Kevin Jackson, 3rd season
Last year's result: 1-18, lost to Scarborough in Class AA South quarterfinals
Top returning players: Garrett Brown, jr., G; Tyler Oliver, sr., G; Kyle Kennedy, jr., G; Rian Sullivan, sr., F; Bryce Cantin, sr., F
Other key players: Brandon Drake, jr., F; Tyreek Rose, soph., F; Adam Boucher, jr., G
Outlook: The Knights look to be more competitive in a very tough Class AA South. They are deeper this winter and plan to play an up-tempo style with some pressure defenses. Eight veterans return, including four starters … “We should be able to hang in some more games this year,” Jackson said. “The guys worked really hard this summer. We’re seeing progress on the court.” … Noble opens the season Friday at home against Portland, one of the top teams in AA.
CLASS C SOUTH
Coach: Ed Szczepanik, 1st year
Last year’s result: 10-10, lost to Hall-Dale in Class C South quarterfinals
Top returning players: Will Stuart, jr., G; Jordan Polanco, soph., G/F
Other key players: Jacob Farnham, sr., F; Isaac Henderson, jr., F; Burke Downs, jr., G; Frankie Driscoll, soph., G; Treshaun Brown, soph., G; Will Davis, soph., G; Darnell Polanco, soph., G
Outlook: A team without much size got even smaller with an injury to center Jalen Lacey, but the guard-oriented Rangers feel they can win with a smaller lineup that plays defense aggressively.. “We’re not a big team at all but we’ll be real quick,” said Szczepanik. “I’ve got a lot of kids who really committed themselves in the offseason to be better ball-handlers and shooters.” … Stuart is an off-guard who can score points in bunches, from both the outside shot and the drive. … This is the first high school head coaching job for Szczepanik, who coached under Dustin Freeman with N.E. Elite and under Lorne Lucas at Oyster River. … The Rangers host St. Dominic in their opener Friday.
Coach: Tyrece Gibbs, 2nd season
Last year's record: 13-8, lost in NEPSAC playoffs
Top returning players: Xahn Frater, sr., PG; Nick Ehlen, sr., G; Pedro Bonilla-Balbi, sr., G; Wesley Wyatt, jr., F; Michael Michaud, soph., F
Other key players: Nikko DePatsy, sr., F; Declan Nugent, jr., F
Outlook: After a mildly successful first season under Gibbs, the Bulldogs look to improve upon their recent success. Berwick adds two upperclassmen in the front court to an already experienced backcourt. Gibbs expects his squad to be very competitive in the tough EIL and he is expecting his team to end up near the top of the standings again this year. … Top to bottom, this is the most talented Berwick team in quite some time. Bulldogs should be able to compete in the NEPSAC this year.
— capsules compiled by Mike Zhe, Mike Whaley and Jay Pinsonnault