WESTERN CLASS A
FAVORITES: McAuley is the favorite. The two-time defending Class A state champion Lions bring a 44-game winning streak into the tournament and won their regular- season games by an average of 36.1 points. The Lions have speed, size, outside shooting and strong inside play, creating matchup problems for just about anyone.
WATCH OUT FOR: If any teams are going to challenge McAuley, it will be Deering or Cheverus. Deering, which forces you to play its style, was the only team to come within 10, losing 43-35 on Jan. 5. Cheverus has the talent and experience to match the Lions, but the Stags need to limit their turnovers.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Allie Clement, junior, guard, McAuley (18.1 ppg, 2.6 assists, 2.9 steals); Chelsea Saucier, senior, guard, Deering (8.3 ppg, 5.0 apg, 3.8 steals); Kristin Ross, senior, forward, Gorham (15.5 ppg, 9.0 rpg); Ashley Briggs, sophomore, guard, Scarborough (9.0 ppg, 4.4 apg); Brooke Flaherty, senior, forward, Cheverus (12 ppg, 8.0 rpg)
DID YOU KNOW: McAuley is attempting to become the first team to win three consecutive Class A state championships since Cindy Blodgett led Lawrence to four consecutive titles from 1991-94.
EASTERN CLASS A
FAVORITES: There is no consensus favorite. The top teams took turns beating each other all year. But if Edward Little can match its season average of 63 points per game, the Eddies are going to be tough to stop. They have talented players all over the court, led by senior guard Ashlee Arnold, who hit 55 3-pointers this year. Bangor has size, Mt. Ararat has versatility.
WATCH OUT FOR: Sixth-ranked Oxford Hills. The Vikings had some tough losses this year but also beat No. 1 Edward Little, No. 3 Mt. Ararat and No. 4 Lawrence. Senior guard Abbie Eastman is their leader.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Josie Lee, senior, guard, Cony (15.6 ppg, 10.4 rpg, 4.2 assists, 4.0 steals); Ashlee Arnold, senior, guard, Edward Little (19.6 ppg); Mallory Nelson, senior, forward, Mt. Ararat (18.3 ppg, 7.2 rpg); Abbie Eastman, senior, guard, Oxford Hills (10.0 ppg, 5.8 apg)
DID YOU KNOW: Edward Little is seeded first in a regional tournament for the first time since 1992, when the Red Eddies were still in Western Maine. Edward Little went 17-1 that year but lost to Portland in the regional final.
WESTERN CLASS B
FAVORITES: Lake Region is the defending champ and healthy for the first time all season. The Lakers are one of the most aggressive defensive teams in the state. They have size inside with Tiana-Jo Carter and the underrated Kelsey Winslow, and great 3-point shooters in the Hancocks. York has some tournament-tested seniors, plus a strong infusion of young talent.
WATCH OUT FOR: No. 11 Wells. The Warriors upset sixth-ranked Gray-New Gloucester in the prelims and have potential to advance at the Portland Expo. Forward Alison Furness leads a group of five juniors that plays outstanding defense and rebounds well. Fourth-ranked Leavitt, if guard Kristen Anderson’s ankle is healed, could simply outscore anyone.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Kristen Anderson, senior, guard, Leavitt (24.9 ppg, 5.7 apg, 5.3 steals); Alison Furness, junior, forward, Wells (14.3 ppg, 7.2 rpg); Nina Davenport, junior, forward, Freeport (19.4 ppg, 8.2 rpg); Tiana-Jo Carter, junior, center, Lake Region (12.1 ppg, 20.5 rpg, 4.1 blocks); Emily Campbell, senior, forward, York (10.0 ppg, 8.0 rpg)
DID YOU KNOW: Rick Clark is in his 31st season coaching York. During that time the Wildcats have missed the playoffs only twice. They have gone into the regional tournament seeded first eight times and seeded second six times. Clark’s overall record is 460-178 (450-152 with the York girls)
EASTERN CLASS B
FAVORITES: Defending state champ Presque Isle brings a 40-game winning streak into the quarterfinals and looms as the team to beat. The Wildcats look to force the tempo as much as they can and create points off turnovers.
WATCH OUT FOR: No. 2 Oceanside, No. 3 Nokomis and No. 5 Mt. Desert Island each have only two losses — MDI’s both to Presque Isle. These teams know how to win and could go far if they can handle the pressure.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Chandler Guerrette, senior, guard, Presque Isle (15.2 ppg, 3.2 apg, 3.4 steals); Kennadi Grover, senior, forward, Oceanside (15.0 ppg, 10.0 rpg); Hannah Shaw, junior, forward, MDI (15.6 ppg, 7.7 rpg); Lexi Nelligan, senior, center, Belfast (16.6 ppg, 8.2 rpg); Anna Mackenzie, junior, forward, Nokomis (14.1 ppg, 13.2 rpg); Jordan Knowlton, senior, guard, Camden Hills (19.9 ppg, 9.2 rpg, 3.3 apg, 3.3 steals)
DID YOU KNOW: Oceanside is in only its second year of existence after a merger between Class B Rockland and Class C Georges Valley. The Mariners have made great strides, making their first trip to the Bangor Auditorium. In Rockland’s final two years, the girls’ basketball team went 1-35.
WESTERN CLASS C
FAVORITES: Another tournament that is wide open though top-ranked Boothbay Region goes in with a 14-game winning streak. Its two losses were by a total of five points, one to Class B power Spruce Mountain. No. 2 Madison is equally tough, having lost twice to Spruce Mountain (both by two points) and once to Boothbay (by six).
WATCH OUT FOR: No. 4 Waynflete. The Flyers, who have advanced to the regional final the last two years, have not lost to a Class C team all season. Its only losses were to Class B playoff teams Lake Region (1), Cape Elizabeth (7) and Wells (11).
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Martha Veroneau, senior, guard, Waynflete (19.8 ppg, 3.2 apg, 5.3 steals); Alex Clark, senior, forward, Boothbay (9.5 ppg, 7.1 rpg, 2.4 blocks); Samantha Bruce, senior, guard, Madison (16 ppg, 2.5 steals); Christina Colman, senior, center, Old Orchard Beach (11.2 ppg, 6.0 rpg, 3.1 seals); Kylie Kemp, junior, guard, Monmouth Academy
DID YOU KNOW: Mt. Abram Coach Doug Lisherness, who earlier announced he would retire after this season, still holds Class D boys’ regional tournament records for free throws in a game (19) and in a tournament (33). Both were set in 1967 when he played at Strong.
EASTERN CLASS C
FAVORITES: Everything points to a Calais-Dexter showdown for the title. Both teams are 18-0, with Calais holding the top spot. Both tams are strong defensively — Dexter forces 27 turnovers a game — and balanced offensively.
WATCH OUT FOR: No. 3 Orono has the talent to push anyone. The Red Riots lost to Dexter twice, by nine, then by four in the regular-season finale. They’ve got some nice inside strength. If their guards hold up, the Riots could surprise.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Jillian Woodward, senior, center, Orono (15.3 ppg, 11.4 rpg, 2.7 blocks); Maddie McVicker, sophomore, guard, Calais (16 ppg); Lauren Crane, senior, guard, Dexter (12.1 ppg, 5.4 rpg), Jordyn Bll, senior, guard, Dexter (10.1 ppg, 3 rpg)
DID YOU KNOW: Calais and Dexter have dominated the regional tournament since 2000, with Dexter winning five titles and Calais three. Each has won two state championships in that time.
WESTERN CLASS D
FAVORITES: It always comes down to Rangeley and Richmond in this regional, and this year shouldn’t be any different. Richmond, with perhaps the best player in 6-foot senior center Jamie Plummer, is the two-time defending champ while Rangeley, which has three players over 6 feet, is ranked No. 1.
WATCH OUT FOR: No. 3 Hyde. The Phoenix’s only loss this season was to Class C playoff team Old Orchard Beach (3). But Hyde may be without freshman center Diamond Brown, who suffered a knee injury.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Kara Fischer, senior, guard. Hyde (10 ppg, 5.0 steals); Blayke Morin, freshman, center, Rangeley (11 ppg, 10 rpg); Jamie Plummer, senior, center, Richmond (21 ppg, 10 rpg); Taylor Esty, sophomore, forward, Rangeley (11 ppg, 7 rpg)
DID YOU KNOW: Richmond’s senior class has known nothing but success. The Bobcats have captured the last two Western Class D basketball titles, the last three state Class D soccer championships and the last three Western Class D softball championships.
EASTERN CLASS D
FAVORITES: Washburn is the two-time defending state champ and, even with a new coach (Diana Trams) is regarded as a huge favorite to repeat. The Beavers play a relentless style that saw them put up 100 points on Southern Aroostook.
WATCH OUT FOR: No. 2 Schenck of East Millinocket. The Wolverines can run with anyone and had a couple of impressive wins over Class C playoff teams Orono (3) and Houlton (4).
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Parise Rossignol, junior, guard, Van Buren (30 ppg, 8 rpg, 5 assists); Morgan Thompson, junior, forward, Schenck (20 ppg, 10 rpg); Kristin Thompson, senior, guard, Schenck (11 ppg, 7 rpg, 3 apg); Carmen Bragg, junior, guard, Washburn; Mackenzie Worcester, sophomore, guard, Washburn
DID YOU KNOW: Matt Rossignol, the Van Buren coach, scored 2,257 points in his career for the Crusaders. But he may not be the highest-scoring member of his family soon. His daughter, junior guard Parise, already has 1,817 points in 61 career games. She averages 29.8 points per game.