Boothbay boys’ basketball coach I.J. Pinkham believes his team has a very good chance to be one of the top teams in Western Class C. The Seahawks are off to a fast start, with a 72-66 win over Dirigo and an 84-27 rout against Wiscasset.

“We have a veteran group with eight seniors,” said Pinkham.

The win over Dirigo was noteworthy, as the Cougars are also a regional favorite. Pinkham was particularly pleased with the depth the Seahawks showed.

“We played well against them,” he said. “I had four starters on the bench beside me in the second quarter because of foul trouble. The second unit did a good job. They came in and handled themselves well.”

One of those reserves was Abel Bryer, who scored 18 points against Dirigo. Bryer is a 6-foot-4 junior who can do a little bit of everything.

“Abel has improved a lot from last season,” said Pinkham. “He was on the varsity last season and played a little bit.”

John Hepburn, the team’s top scorer, has 922 career points and should become the school’s fifth boys’ player to reach the 1,000-point plateau. Chris Noonan who played from 2004-08, is the school’s all-time scorer at 1,411 points. The girls’ program has two players who have scored 1,000 points.

The Seahawks host Madison on Friday night.

Defending Class A state champion Portland started the season last Friday the way it ended it last March – with a big opening quarter. The Bulldogs beat Massabesic, 72-38.

One of the advantages of a blowout win is that the coach can use a lot of players. That’s important for Portland, which graduated four starters. Coach Joe Russo will be looking at different combinations early in the season.

“I played all 13 players in the second quarter,” said Russo.

The Bulldogs’ starting lineup consisted of Joe Esposito, Steve Alex, Amir Moss, Liam Densmore and Tanner Foley. Alex, who scored 23 points, is the only returning starter. Moss and Esposito came off the bench last season, and Foley, a 6-foot-3 center, got a little bit of playing time. Now they’re all playing bigger roles. Densmore is a transfer from Deering, where he was a starter for two seasons. John Williams, who saw very limited action last season, scored 10 points in the opener. Moss had 16 points and Densmore added 11.

Portland plays at Marshwood on Friday night.

Yarmouth won its opening game Saturday at Kennebunk, 75-49. It was one of only two scheduled games in southern Maine that night as most teams opened the night before. Whenever there’s a paucity of games on a particular night, you can bet that other coaches will be in the stands watching. Such was the case Saturday, as coaches from Cape Elizabeth, Falmouth, Gray-New Gloucester, Poland, Wells and York were scouting Yarmouth and Kennebunk.

Yarmouth was scheduled to host Falmouth on Tuesday, but the game was postponed along with the rest of the night’s slate of games because of the weather. The Clippers and Yachtsmen will make up their game on Dec. 30. In an attractive matchup Friday night, Poland, the defending Western Class B champion, plays at Yarmouth. The game is magnified because the teams only play once in the regular season.

“There’s always the feeling about a strong team that if you beat them, you can stay ahead of them in the standings,” said Yarmouth Coach Adam Smith.

South Portland got a strong performance from sophomore Ruay Bol in its opening win over Noble, 47-31. Bol, coming off a strong freshman season, scored 15 points and had seven rebounds.

Jordin Jackson added 11 points and seven rebounds, and Jaren Muller scored 12 points and had seven rebounds. The Red Riots play at Westbrook on Friday night.

First-year girls’ basketball coaches Jay Lowery at Portland and Steve Huntington at Cheverus both have their teams off to 2-0 starts despite being hired after the summer season.

“I had no idea who had varsity experience or what positions they played,” said Huntington, a former boys’ assistant at Scarborough and Deering.

In a way, that made it easier to deal with the transfers of 6-2 center Jess Willerson to McAuley and promising point guard Lodia Ismail to Deering.

Huntington focused on what he had and saw a group of athletic shooters, including senior guard Jillian Libby. Libby has signed a national letter of intent to play at Division I New Jersey Institute of Technology.

Libby was not among the top 15 scorers in the SMAA as a junior and has never made a league all-star team.

In a scrimmage against Brunswick, Huntington said he was surprised Libby attempted only six shots and was concerned when she frequently looked to the bench after a miss.

Huntington informed her the shooting light “is always green. It’s so bright, it’s neon green.”

Libby scored 15 in the season-opening 63-50 win at Windham. Laura Holman, another senior holdover, had 15 points against Windham and 18 in Wednesday’s 66-48 win against Bonny Eagle. Freshman point guard Emme Poulin has gone for 14 and 10 points in the two games, and the Stags have averaged 74 shots.

That type of offensive production will be tough to match in tonight’s home game against SMAA favorite Thornton, the league’s top-ranked defensive team last season.

Lowery was an assistant at Portland last season. He knew what he had, and what he’d lost. Four players graduated from a 14-6 team, and junior starter Ciera Burnham and promising reserve guard Abby Ramirez transferred to Deering.

Portland returns third-team All-SMAA Elizabeth Donato and tough rebounders Gabby Wagabaza and Sydney Fredericks. Plus, Lowery was convinced sophomore Kate Johnson was a star in waiting.

In easy wins against Noble and Massabesic, Johnson has scored 14 and 19 points.

“She’s going to be quite the player,” Lowery said. “This is the type of athlete who just needs time up and down the floor.”

Marshwood will be Portland’s first test. The Hawks lost at Gorham by three and beat Windham by three.

“All of my seniors have played at least three years on the varsity and (point guard) Megan McLean has played four,” Coach Lee Petrie said. “If you read about girls’ basketball this year it’s all about who transferred where. We don’t have that marquee player and that’s fine with us. We’ll live down here next to the bridge and keep working hard, and the girls are OK with that.”

Staff Writer Steve Craig contributed to this report.