So what does the No. 1 seed mean in the upcoming girls’ basketball tournaments?

Depends on who you talk to. For some, it’s a great accomplishment. For others, it merely ends one phase of the season.

“It’s very exciting,” said Kayla Burchll, the senior forward at Deering High after the Rams beat then-No. 1 McAuley last Thursday to move up to the top spot in Western Class A. “But it’s just a place. We still have to show that we’re No. 1-worthy.”

She said this very matter-of-factly, following the lead of her head coach, Mike Murphy.

“We’re all 0-0,” he said. “But I’m all proud of the fact that – I’m not pulling a Bill Belichick where no one gave us a chance – but we were the afterthoughts behind the two private schools (McAuley and No.4 Cheverus) and I’m proud of the way the kids came through.”

“We all knew we wanted to prove everyone wrong,” said Deering junior Ella Ramonas. “And that we wanted to come out on top and I’m glad we did.”

If you play for Morse High in Bath, the top ranking in Eastern Class A came as a surprise and prompted some pretty exciting emotions.

“One’s a nice spot for us,” said Coach Mike Hart. “It kind of completes one of our season goals, to finish at the highest possible seed we could. It doesn’t get any higher than this.”

Morse jumped from third to first – passing Edward Little and Hampden Academy – after a 44-36 win over Brunswick last Thursday. Hart expected to maybe move into second.

“I was surprised,” he said. “But then again, I’m not smart enough to understand the Heal points completely.”

Hart told his players to enjoy the moment – for a moment. Now the 17-1 Shipbuilders are preparing for No. 8 Messalonskee.

The teams didn’t play in the regular season.

York High went in No. 1 with an 18-0 record in Western Class B, having won 40 consecutive games. The Wildcats edged out Leavitt of Turner, which also finished 18-0.

Rick Clark, the veteran coach of the Wildcats, said going in the top spot may give a team a little edge.

He said, “If you go in 18-0, you’d like to think you’re the No. 1 team.”

Clark said one of the keys to his team this year is that the players haven’t let up – except for a brief stretch in last week’s season finale against Fryeburg.

“We were down 5-2 after three minutes,” said Clark. “I called timeout and stressed how I thought the kids were playing. We went on an 18-0 run.”

 

THE PRELIMS today and Wednesday should be interesting.

The Western Class A game on Wednesday features a very hot team (No. 8 Thornton Academy, winner of seven of nine to finish 8-10) against a cool team (Bonny Eagle, which lost its last five to finish 7-9).

But the Scots, making their first playoff appearance in five seasons, own a 38-37 win over the Trojans, back on Dec. 21.

“I’m sure they’ll be a completely different team,” said Eric Marston, the first-year coach of the Trojans. “And we don’t look remotely the same now than we did then. We’re executing a lot better offensively and defensively we’re guarding better.”

The winner will play top-ranked Deering, but that doesn’t matter just yet.

“We did a lot to put ourselves in a bad position the early part of the season,” said Marston. “Then we did enough to get in, and once you’re in, anything can happen.

“It’s been a good experience for us the last few weeks. Every game has essentially been a playoff game for us.”

Bonny Eagle Coach Sue Rondeau, a 1997 Thornton graduate, is glad her seniors got a chance to get this far.

“We’ve been at the bottom,” she said. “So for a couple of these girls, it’s nice to end their careers in the playoffs.”

In Class B on Wednesday, Wells travels to Gray-New Gloucester. “We’re certainly glad it’s at home,” said Chris Aube, coach of the Patriots. “It’s a little bit of an advantage, shooting on the same baskets we practice on.”

Not that Aube is counting on that. “There were four or five teams this year,” he said, “that on any given night could beat each other. It made for an interesting season.”

In Western Class C today, No. 10 North Yarmouth Academy plays at No. 7 St. Dominic while No. 9 Georges Valley plays at No. 8 Old Orchard Beach.

This is the last girls’ basketball team at Georges Valley, which merges with Rockland next year to form the new Oceanside High School.

But Coach Dwight Henry doesn’t see that as a rallying point for his Buccaneers.

“We’ve just got to go play our game and see where it takes us,” said Henry. “Hopefully we’ll do well.”

Dean Plante, the Old Orchard Beach coach, said it could be a matchup of a good offensive team (Georges Valley) against a strong defensive team (OOB).

“The girls really work hard, they dig in defensively and pound the boards,” said Plante. “Playing at home is huge for us. I’m sure there’s going to be some jitters, but we’ll try to look at it as just another home game and try to extend our season.”

 

MORSE PLAYED Edward Little in the KVAC championship game Monday night, but Hart hadn’t scheduled any scrimmages to keep the Shipbuilders game-ready for the quarterfinals. Morse plays at 8:30 p.m. Friday.

Deering will scrimmage at Brunswick (No. 5 in the East) today. And York will scrimmage McAuley at 5 p.m. Thursday in York.

“Last year we played Deering and it was a great scrimmage for us entering the tournament,” said York’s Clark. “This one could be interesting. We’re not doing a straight scrimmage. It won’t be a total game situation. We’ll play it like more strategic stuff.”

 

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