As the regular season winds down, several teams find themselves with some big games worth a bundle of Heal points on the immediate horizon.

And the coaches seem to like that.

“It gets you tournament ready,” said Cheverus Coach Richie Ashley.

The Stags (11-2) are ranked fourth in Western Class A and have, among their final five games, meetings with No. 6 Gorham (on the road tonight), No. 3 Sanford (at home Saturday), No. 2 McAuley (away, Feb. 8) and No. 7 South Portland (away, Feb. 11).

“I’d rather be playing those teams right now,” said Ashley. “We can get some good competition heading into the tournament.”

Each of those games will have a bearing on the tournament seedings.

The same is true in Eastern Class A, where third-ranked Morse (13-1) closes out with three of its final four games against teams in the top five: at No. 5 Cony tonight; at No. 1 Edward Little on Saturday, and home against No. 4 Brunswick (11-4) on Feb. 10.

That season finale against the Dragons will end a string of five away games for the Shipbuilders, whose only loss this season came Jan. 18 at Oxford Hills, 41-39.

“Our schedule was oddly designed,” said Morse Coach Mike Hart. “We had a chunk of home games early, six in a row, and now we’re seeing the flip side of that.”

But Hart likes the way the schedule is playing out. He feels it will be to his team’s advantage.

“I think it’s good preparation for us,” he said. “They’re all solid teams. It’s going to be a heck of a week for us this week.

“But we’re just trying to get better. That’s been our goal every game this season.”

The Shipbuilders continue to be led by senior forward Nikoline Ostergaard, the Danish exchange student. She leads the KVAC South in scoring (21.5 points per game) and rebounding (9.2) and is fourth in assists (3.3).

She’s attracting attention from several colleges, including Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire and Boston University.

 

THE MOST anticipated game of the SMAA season may be Thursday, when McAuley (13-0) plays at top-ranked Deering (13-0) at 7 p.m. The teams met over the holidays, with Deering beating the Lions in the championship game of the Cony tournament. They have been ranked 1-2 all season in Western Class A.

McAuley follows that up with a game at Gorham on Saturday, facing the irrepressible Mia Rapolla, who may be the best one-on-one player in the league.

 

CHEVERUS SHOULD have its playoff push strengthened by the return of sophomore forward Kylie Libby, who missed seven games with two stress fractures in her right foot. She returned in last Friday’s 52-41 win over South Portland and scored three points.

“She healed quickly,” said Ashley. “Having a 5-foot-11 point forward doesn’t hurt. She’s a good player, very heady.”

The Stags have one of the SMAA’s top players in Alexandra Palazzi-Leahy but also have been boosted by a strong inside game from junior Morgan Cahill and sophomore Brooke Flaherty.

 

NEED A late foul shot in a close game? Look no further than Medomak Valley junior guard Alanna Vose. Twice this year she’s scored the winning point at the free-throw line in the closing seconds, the latest on Friday when she hit a foul shot with five seconds left to beat Gardiner, 45-44.

 

WHILE TOP-RANKED Leavitt and second-ranked York continue to spin toward their likely Western Class B championship game showdown, the teams are trying hard not to look too far ahead.

But it’s not easy. They have been each winning games by over 30 points.

“We know, if you’re going to go anywhere in Western B, you have to go through York,” said Leavitt Coach Tammy Anderson. “We will try to get to them. But we know that anything can happen and we’re not taking anyone lightly.

“I tell the kids to just keep playing basketball the way we’re capable of playing basketball.”

The Hornets are led by the Anderson sisters. Courtney Anderson is averaging 22.8 points, 6.2 assists and 3.4 steals. Kristen Anderson is averaging 17.9 points, 4.7 assists and 5.4 steals.

Leavitt’s closest game was a 66-61 win Jan. 11 over Nokomis, the reigning Eastern Class B champ. “We needed to be in a game like that, whether we won or lost,” said Tammy Anderson. “We got down 10-0, it was a packed gym at their place. You couldn’t ask for more to be in a tournament atmosphere.

“I saw some fear in the kids’ eyes and I told them not to worry. (Nokomis) hit its first eight shots. I told the kids that, mathematically, they wouldn’t keep that up. We were able to overcome a lot in that game. We needed it.”

 

Staff Writer Mike Lowe can be contacted at 791-6422 or at: [email protected]