Defending regional champion Forest Hills is the top seed in the Western Maine Class D boys basketball tournament, but head coach Anthony Amero won’t call his Tigers the favorite.

“We have too much respect for everyone else in the conference to be that smug,” Amero said. “We’ve had challenges with North Haven and Seacoast. We’ve had challenges with Greenville and Valley.”

Forest Hills (16-2) plays No. 8 Richmond (8-11) at 1 p.m. today at the Augusta Civic Center. No. 5 North Haven (14-3) faces No. 4 A.R. Gould (11-7) at 11:30 a.m., and No. 7 Seacoast Christian (10-8) takes on No. 2 Hyde (14-3) at 10 a.m.

“I see five of the eight teams with a legitimate chance to win the thing,” Valley coach Wade Morrill said.

Morrill’s Cavaliers  (15-3) earned the No. 3 seed, and will open the quarterfinals at 8:30 a.m. against No. 6 Greenville (11-7), a team Morrill feels is much better than its record. The Lakers seven losses came to teams that went a combined 77-10 in the regular season, including Forest Hills and Jonesport-Beals, the two top seeds in Class D, and Waynflete, a strong Class C program.

“You’re not talking about bad teams they’ve lost to,” Morrill said. “Greenville played the toughest schedule in Class D West.”

Valley split a pair of games with Greenville in the regular season. The key to beating the Lakers is getting back on defense, applying good ball pressure, and hitting the boards, Morrill said. Henry Hershey is a dangerous shooter for the Lakers.

“They have a lot of team quickness,” Morrill said.

Valley is led by Carrington Miller (21 points, 8 rebounds and 6 assists per game), Josh West (14 ppg, 7 rpg), Dylan Belanger (8 ppg, 6 rpg) and Seth Malloy (8 ppg).
Richmond and Forest Hills played once in the regular season and Forest Hills won 71-40 in Jackman.

“They’re very talented, across the board,” Richmond coach Jon Spear said of Forest Hills. “We have to protect the middle and make sure we get out in their shooters’ faces if they kick it outside.”

Senior Evan Worster leads the Tigers with 19.1 points per game. Matt Turner (12.5 ppg) and Derick Ouellette (11 ppg) are also scoring threats for Forest Hills.

“You always have to be aware of what (Worster) is doing,” Spear said.

As well as Forest Hills can play offensively, Amero thinks the teams’ defense is the key to tournament success. The Tigers allowed an average of just 37.7 points per game in the regular season.

“The most points we’ve given up is 58,” Amero said. “That’s going to be the key for us.”

Richmond is led by guards Randy Moody and Cameron Emmons, who each average around 10 points per game. Forward Eddie Stewart averages close to nine points per game.

North Haven and A.R. Gould played a pair of games in the regular season, with Gould winning each. Hyde beat Seacoast Christian twice in the regular season.

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242
[email protected]