Friday was supposed to be the final night of the high school basketball regular season, but as a major snowstorm moved toward Maine and games were backed up a day, teams were instead making their postseason plans.
While the Heal points won’t be finalized by the Maine Principals’ Association until this weekend, possibly Saturday but more likely Sunday, most games already have been reported, allowing coaches and fans to look ahead to tournament matchups.
Yet there was still some drama Friday.
Ryan Chicoine, coach of the Gorham High boys, called it an interesting 12 hours. The Rams thought they might have been nosed out for the final seed of the Western Class A tournament Thursday night by Cheverus after learning the Stags upset top-ranked South Portland.
That’s what the Heal points showed at that point, but there was one problem. Not all the results of Thursday night’s games had been reported. Of particular interest was the Marshwood at Noble result. The Rams got the official word Friday morning.
“It came down to the Marshwood game,” said Chicoine. “We needed Marshwood to win. The fact we beat Marshwood and Cheverus lost to them was the difference. It’s been a very interesting morning.”
Marshwood’s win over Noble enabled Gorham (6-12) to finish 11th, just over a point ahead of Cheverus (6-12) in the tournament index. Also helping Gorham was its win over Thornton, which also beat Cheverus.
Gorham now can look ahead to a preliminary-round game Tuesday night at No. 6 Scarborough (12-6). The winner advances to the quarterfinals next Saturday at the Portland Expo.
Scarborough beat Gorham 66-49 in the first game of the season.
The Bonny Eagle girls took care of business Thursday night with a 50-41 win over Windham to slide into the final playoff berth in Western Class A. The Scots (6-12) trailed Portland for much of the last week of the season for the 11th spot. But in beating the ninth-ranked Eagles, Bonny Eagle picked up enough Heal points to get in.
“Yes, we’re in,” said Coach Suzanne Rondeau. “We had been talking all week about the importance of (the Windham) game. Our defense was really incredible.”
The Scots will play at No. 6 Sanford in one of the three Western Class A preliminary-round games Wednesday. The others have No. 9 Windham at No. 8 Gorham and No. 10 Marshwood at No. 6 Thornton Academy.
The home teams in each prelim already have victories over the visitors. But, said Gorham Coach Laughn Berthiaume, “that doesn’t mean the higher seeds are automatically going to win. I think all the preliminary games are going to be competitive.”
The preliminary-round games in Western Class B also will be played Wednesday.
Those include No. 8 Maranacook at No. 9 Freeport, No. 10 Oak Hill at No. 7 Cape Elizabeth, No. 11 Wells at No. 6 Gray-New Gloucester and No. 12 Falmouth at No. 6 Greely.
“I’m just thankful we’re one of the 11 that made it,” said Wells Coach Don Abbott, whose team is 7-11. “And now we have the chance to play against a team that we had a competitive game with earlier in the year.”
Gray-New Gloucester beat Wells 41-39 on Dec. 21.
Some preliminary-round girls’ games will be played Tuesday night.
Camden Hills, ranked seventh in Eastern Class B, will play 10th-ranked Hermon at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday. The teams didn’t meet in the regular season.
In Western Class C, fourth-ranked Waynflete (15-3) will play No. 13 Carrabec on Tuesday. Other prelims involving local teams include Sacopee Valley at Dirigo and Traip Academy at Mt. Abram.
For the Gorham boys, it was a scheduling change that added to the drama. The Marshwood game was at Noble. It’s the home team’s responsibility to report the results to the Maine Principals’ Association. Because the game was shifted to Thursday from Friday, the online reporting method doesn’t allow access, so Marshwood Athletic Director Rich Buzzell reported the score Friday morning.
“I made Gorham very happy,” said Buzzell.
Gorham lost to Westbrook 56-50 on Thursday night. Even though the Rams lost, they were still upbeat. Ryan Sullivan, a Gorham tri-captain, was texting Marshwood players he knows. But until the final results were posted, there was still a question.
When Chicoine heard of Cheverus’ win, his reaction was, “You’ve got to be kidding me.”
Sullivan had slept in because there was no school Friday.
“My parents woke me up Friday morning and told me we had made the tournament,” said Sullivan. “I’m very excited. It’s definitely a great feeling.”
This will be the first Western Maine basketball tournament for any of the players. Gorham last qualified for the tournament four seasons ago.
The three Western Class A boys’ preliminary games will be Tuesday night. Besides Gorham at Scarborough, No. 10 Windham will be at No. 7 Thornton Academy and No. 9 Sanford will be at No. 8 Marshwood.
Marshwood and Sanford tied in the Heal point standings but Marshwood won a coin toss Friday afternoon to get home court for the game. It’s a rematch of last year’s prelim game won by Marshwood.
“The tournament is wide open,” said Marshwood Coach Mike Zamarchi. “We’ve won six out of our last seven. We’ve had different leaders throughout the season.”
Twelve teams in Western Class B boys make the tournament, so there will be four prelims Tuesday.
They are No. 12 Leavitt at No. 5 Spruce Mountain, No. 11 Morse at No. 6 Wells, No. 10 Fryeburg Academy at No. 7 Greely and No. 9 Yarmouth at No. 8 Maranacook.
Eleven teams make the Western Class C tournament with preliminary-round games Wednesday. In one, No. 6 Old Orchard Beach will be at home against No. 11 Mt. Abram.
Staff Writer Tom Chard can be contacted at 791-6419 or at:
Staff Writer Mike Lowe can be contacted at 791-6422 or at: