With the basketball tournaments fast approaching, one division that is tightening up is Western Class A boys.
Would we expect anything less?
With Portland’s loss to Thornton Academy and Deering holding off Westbrook on Friday night, the city schools swapped the No. 1 and No. 2 spots in the Heal point standings, with Deering taking over the top position.
Deering and Portland, both 10-1, are separated by just five points in the tournament index. The rivals play Thursday night for the first time this season. Portland could either regain first place, or Deering could pad its lead.
Eleven teams qualify for the regional tournament.
Recent action suggests a wide-open tournament. Deering’s lone loss is to Bonny Eagle, which lost to Portland before Christmas.
Third-ranked South Portland has lost to Deering (in overtime) and Portland and plays at No. 4 Bonny Eagle at 1 p.m. today. It’s a big game for both clubs as they look to gain momentum for the tournament that starts Feb. 12 with the preliminary round. The quarterfinals start Feb. 15 at the Portland Expo.
There are teams other than the top four who could win the West. No. 5 Westbrook has a win over Bonny Eagle and gave Deering all it wanted Friday night. No. 6 Scarborough gave Deering a tough game, and No. 7 Thornton Academy handed Portland its first loss with a 64-52 home win Friday night.
Marshwood, Biddeford and Gorham are currently in the last three qualifying spots. Cheverus, Noble and Windham are on the outside.
THE WINDHAM BOYS kept alive their tournament hopes with a 67-47 win over Cheverus on Friday night. It was the sixth straight loss for Cheverus (3-8), which has two games remaining against South Portland along with games against Deering and Portland. The Stags will need to turn around their play and likely pull an upset or two to avoid missing the regional tournament.
HAMPDEN ACADEMY is clearly the favorite in Eastern Class A.
The Broncos had a strong group back from the club that was knocked off by Deering in last year’s state final. All indications so far are that the Broncos are a determined bunch looking to make amends for last season.
Hampden (11-0) is the last remaining unbeaten team in Class A.
Staff Writer Tom Chard can be contacted at 791-6419 or at: