AUGUSTA — Forest Hills coach Anthony Amero knows an explosive team when he sees one. He should. After all, no one has had a better view of his team’s prolific production this season.

Amero sees many of the same qualities in his unbeaten Tigers’ Western D final opponent, third-seeded Hyde. And the similarities have him thinking both teams will have to be committed to both ends of the floor from the opening tap at 11:45 a.m. on Saturday.

“It’s one of those games where somebody can get blown out pretty quickly in the first half if they don’t show up defensively,” Amero said.

No one has been able to stop either Forest Hills of Jackman (20-0) or Hyde of Bath (16-4) up to this point, other than the two finalists themselves.

The Tigers, seeking their third regional title in the last four years, are averaging 78.5 points per game in the tournament, thanks to big offensive games from Ryan Petrin and Brandon Ouellette.

Petrin, a rugged 6-foot-3 senior forward, torched North Yarmouth Academy for 38 points in the quarterfinals. Ouellette, a waterbug 5-foot-7 senior guard, topped that with a tournament-record eight 3-pointers in a 34-point performance against Seacoast Christian in the semifinals.


Another senior, 6-foot-4 center Tanner Daigle, is the team’s leading scorer. Matt Turner, a 6-foot-1 senior guard, is yet another candidate to light up the scoreboard.

Hyde coach Cory Begley, who is trying to lead the Phoenix back to their first state title game since 1997, knows his team will face its toughest test of the tournament.

“They get the ball up the court. They’ve got some size. We’re going to have to really compete,” Begley said.

The Phoenix have lost two of the last three regional finals — last year to Valley and in 2012 to Forest Hills when Daigle, Ouellette, Petrin and Turner were freshmen. Only one starter from last year’s team remains, so Begley is embracing the role of underdog.

“They’re 20-0, you know? No pressure on us,” Begley said.

Hyde emerged from a 64-41 quarterfinal win over Searsport thanks in part to senior guard Kiefer Cundy’s 18 points. Facing No. 2 seed and defending regional champion Valley in the semifinals, the Phoenix followed junior guard Antoine Montgomery in a 28-point, eight-rebound, seven-assist, four-steal tour de force to a 61-47 win.


Unlike Forest Hills, where the seniors have played about 100 games together in their high school careers, Hyde’s roster is almost thrown together at the beginning of each school year, with players from all over the Northeast converging on the private school to form what is consistently a major force in Western D.

This year, like the Tigers, the Phoenix did their bonding in the western wilds of the state.

“We did a trip up north to our property in Eustis and really just worked on team building,” Begley said. “Just get better every day and enjoy the time you spend together. You can always tell when a team enjoys spending time together and I think that is, more so than the x’s and o’s, one of the secrets to our late-season success.”

Most of the Tigers’ success this season required little effort beyond the third quarter. They beat their opponents by an average of 32.7 points per game, meaning the starters were usually sitting on the bench for most of the second half.

While the final score wouldn’t indicate it, Forest Hills has come out a little flat in the second half of its tournament games, something Amero has anticipated, tried to address and knows his team can’t afford to do against Hyde.

“I don’t know if that’s indicative of the score or that we’re just not used to playing four quarters,” Amero said. “We’ve tried. We’ve played Hebron’s prep. We’ve played Kents Hill’s preps. We’ve played a lot of people the last couple of weeks trying to get four-quarter games. I think conditioning we’re OK. It’s just the mental aspect.”


For all of the athleticism on the floor Saturday, the regional final will be as much a test of mental toughness as physical, Amero said.

“They just have to grit it out,” he said. “It’s going to be a slug fest.”

Randy Whitehouse —621-5638

[email protected]

Twitter: @RAWmaterial33

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