There’s a tight race in Western Class B for the last four qualifying spots for the tournament. Fryeburg Academy (5-8) is in the 12th and final qualifying position.
The Raiders are closely bunched with Morse, Yarmouth and Oak Hill, which occupy Nos. 11 through 9, respectively. Oak Hill has four games remaining; the others have five.
“There’s no margin for error,” said Fryeburg Coach Sedge Saunders. “This season is similar to last year in that we got off to a slow start. I feel it’s a little more promising to get into the tournament this season if we play like we’ve been playing. We would like to move up a few spots and get the best possible matchup for the preliminary round.”
The Raiders finished 8-10 and just out of the tournament last year.
Of Fryeburg’s five games left, Saturday’s home game against No. 7 Greely will carry the most Heal points. The teams played back on Dec. 15 with Greely winning, 65-59.
The Raiders have won four of their last five games. The lone loss was at Cape Elizabeth in overtime, 53-48. After Greely, the rest of the schedule will have the Raiders hosting Freeport, with the final three games on the road against Gray-New Gloucester, Lake Region and Poland.
“We’re all separated by a mere three points,” said Saunders of his team and the three ahead of it.
Leavitt High of Turner is in 13th place, only two points behind Fryeburg.
Saunders cited point guard Bright Amoako for his veteran leadership.
“Bright has been through this before,” he said. “He always plays a good all-around game. He has a lot of steals and assists.”
Amoako is capable of scoring in double figures in any game.
Fryeburg last made the tournament three years ago.
THE NO. 1 SEED in Western Class A has been changing hands of late. South Portland went from third to first after Monday’s 82-77 double-overtime win over Bonny Eagle.
The Red Riots weren’t there for long: Deering’s win over Windham the next night was enough to boost the Rams into the top spot with the Riots dropping to second. Portland had occupied No. 1 until losing to Thornton Academy a week ago.
The top three or four positions could change in the final two weeks of the season, but whatever happens with the No. 1 spot, the last week or so has shown it could be a wide-open tournament.
Westbrook’s one-point win over Portland on Tuesday moved the Blue Blazes from fifth place to fourth.
THORNTON ACADEMY (8-5) and Westbrook (10-3) are two of the hottest teams in Western Class A. The Golden Trojans have won six straight heading into Friday night’s game with Noble at home.
Thornton opened with a blowout loss to Deering, a win over Kennebunk and another blowout loss to Bonny Eagle, then a tough three-point loss to South Portland. The Golden Trojans started 2-5. They’ve since gone 6-0 with their last loss to Scarborough on Jan, 4.
Westbrook had won five straight before losing to Deering 49-41 last Friday night. The Blazes bounced back with a 46-45 win over Portland on Tuesday.
Keenan Lowe hit a 3-pointer with 35 seconds left to make it a one-point game, Alec Hazlewood made two from the line with seven seconds remaining, then Westbrook withstood a last-second shot by the Bulldogs that hit the front rim. The Blazes are at Massabesic on Friday night.
Next Tuesday, Westbrook hosts Thornton Academy.
South Portland is another team getting better. The Riots are 11-2. Last Monday’s double-overtime win over Bonny Eagle was South Portland’s biggest win of the season.
“We were down by eight points halfway through the first period,” said Coach Phil Conley. “I liked the way we battled back. Once we got the ball inside, our offense ran smoothly. It was a game of runs — a great high school basketball game.”
South Portland hosts Cheverus on Friday night.
THE CHEVERUS at Portland game, postponed Jan. 16 because of snow, will be played at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Portland High instead of the Portland Expo. The Maine Red Claws are holding a community event at the Expo that night.
JUNIOR VARSITY basketball teams are the D-League for the varsity. Last Friday night, the Westbrook and Deering junior varsities played a four-overtime game with Deering outlasting Westbrook, 90-83.
The overtimes meant the varsity game started nearly an hour late. Deering hit two shots at the buzzer to extend the game, one in regulation and the second to force the second overtime.
Staff Writer Tom Chard can be reached at 791-6419 or at: