1. Falmouth: With the Yachtmen, it doesn’t matter if it’s Class B or now Class A. Excellence translates regardless of class. Falmouth won the Class B state title, going 21-1, and was moved to Class A this season because of enrollment. Should Falmouth win a state title in ‘A’, it would fit nicely with the school’s Gold Balls in classes B and C. The Yachtsmen are tall and talented with several players 6-foot-3 and taller. Jack Simonds, a 6-foot-6 junior, is the go-to player.
2. Bonny Eagle: The Scots have fallen one game shy of playing in a state final for three straight years. You can bet for Dustin Cole’s senior year, they want to be playing for the title on the first Saturday in March. Cole, a point guard, has a similar cast as past years, but another year of experience could help all concerned. Ben Malloy and Zach Dubiel are coming off a state football championship. The team has added some height.
3. Portland: The Bulldogs have three talented starters back from a team that made it to the regional semifinals last season. Matt Talbot, a 6-5 center, and guards Justin Zukowski and Jayvon Pitts-Young are playing their fourth season of varsity and are three of the top players in the SMAA. Talbot can dominate at times with offense and defense while Zukowski and Pitts-Young can score in double figures in any game. Both were in the top 10 in steals in the league.
4. Greely: The Rangers have one of the tallest and most talented teams in the state. Greely can put a starting five on the floor that starts at 6-2. Center Mike McDevitt (6-7) and 6-4 Bailey Train form a strong combination. McDevitt can dominate in the paint and Train is one of Class B’s best 3-point shooters. In addition, the Rangers have 6-4 Connor Hanley, 6-5 Kyle Wood and the little guy in the group, Pat O’Shea, the 6-2 point guard.
5. Thornton Academy: The Golden Trojans have four starters returning from a team that reached the regional quarterfinals. Quinn Richardson-Newton, Ruben Moses, Kevin Barrett and Evan Wright make Thornton one of the teams to beat in the SMAA. Richardson-Newton averaged 13 points a game last season. If the team can develop some new talent to go with the core players, Thornton could get deep into the playoffs.
6. Camden Hills: The Windjammers appear to have a team similar to those that won championships not too long ago. There’s plenty of depth, scoring balance and height. Four starters return from a playoff team. Colin Morse and Chandler Crans both averaged 12 points a game last season. In the competitive KVAC Class B, the Windjammers look like a contender once again.
7. Deering: Potentially, the Rams could be very strong. They have size, speed and athleticism. Ahmed Ismail Ahmed has the potential to be a consistent scorer. Guard Liam Densmore had a strong sophomore year as he turned out to be one of the top 3-point shooters in the SMAA. Chhorda Chhorn missed all of last year with a torn ACL. He was the starting point guard as a sophomore on Deering’s Class A state champion. The Rams have two 6-7 players in Ahmed Ali and Kyle Richards.
8. Yarmouth: The Clippers captured the Class B state title in 2012. This year’s team doesn’t have a go-to player like that team, but has better depth. Nate Shields-Auble, a rugged 6-4 center, played on that state championship team. With double-figure scorers from last season in David Murphy, Adam LaBrie and Auble, the Clippers should be able to score. At 6-4, Ethan Gage is another big body in the middle.
9. Brunswick: The Dragons were picked fifth in a KVAC preseason coaches’ poll, but could be better if things come together. The team is strong in the backcourt with Ryan Black, Blake Gordon and Derek Devereaux. Black averaged 15 points a game. All the guards can shoot the 3-pointer. The team will count on Alex Bandouveres and 6-6 center Elliot Boyd for rebounding.
10. Waynflete: This is a team that went 17-2, losing in the Class C regional finals last year. The Flyers have two key components back in leading scorer Serge Nyirikambia and point guard Harry Baker-Connick. The team also has some key reserves from a year ago returning. They will have to step up and assume vital roles for the Flyers to contend again. The team is confident of that happening and being there once again at the end.
– Tom Chard, Staff Writer