Jack Casale of Cheverus admitted he was “very nervous” before his first varsity basketball game, last year’s season opener against Windham.

“The first time I got the ball, I didn’t know what to do with it so I shot it and it went in,” he said.

Casale made five 3-pointers in the game. A new shooter had arrived on the local scene.

“No one knew who I was,” said Casale. “They were preoccupied with Austin. It could be tougher to score this season.”

Austin is Austin Boudreau, who starts his third season Friday in the backcourt for the Stags.

Boudreau is a point guard who can score, while Casale, an off guard, has added another element to his game besides catching and shooting. He has improved his dribble to the rim, which he hopes will prevent defenses from overplaying him.

Both are juniors, and the key players for a Stags team striving to be in the Class AA title hunt. Last season, Cheverus went 10-8 in the regular season and lost in the Western Class A quarterfinals.

Starting their second year together, Boudreau and Casale have the potential to be one of the top backcourts in the state. They’re both bigger and stronger than a year ago. Boudreau is close to 6-foot-4 while Casale is pushing 6-3.

“Jack is easy to play with,” said Boudreau. “We read each other very well. I can tell which way he’s going to cut just by looking at him.”

And Casale knows when and where to expect a Boudreau pass.

Boudreau has had several games scoring in the 20s over the past two seasons, but said his first priority is getting the ball to Casale and the other Stags.

“If Jack has the shot, I’m giving him the ball,” he said. “The team is first.”

Cheverus has a new coach in Ryan Soucie. He was an assistant under Dan Costigan, who stepped down as head coach after last season.

“We played tough defense during the preseason and the offense is adjusting to what Coach Soucie likes to do,” said Boudreau.

Last season the Stags liked to get the ball inside to 6-foot-5 Zordan Holman, who graduated last spring. Casale said the offense this winter will be based more on the perimeter, with a lot of ball movement.

That suits his game. Casale led the team with 43 3-pointers. Boudreau was next with 28. Casale led Cheverus in scoring with 12.3 points per game; Boudreau was second with 11.0 and had a team-high 67 assists.

As a freshman, Boudreau was known for his 3-point shooting. As a sophomore, he made the switch to point guard. Over the past two seasons, Boudreau also has improved his ability to drive to the basket.

Boudreau played other sports growing up, but focused on basketball starting in eighth grade. He has the confidence of knowing that the coach entrusts him with the offense.

This fall, Casale was a wide receiver and played some at quarterback for Cheverus.

“I think playing football gives me an edge of toughness on the floor,” said Casale. “It certainly got me in shape. Coach (John) Wolfgram has helped me a lot in learning how to be a leader.”

Casale was elected a captain of the football team this week.

“Jack had a breakout season last year and we’re hoping this one is even better,” said Soucie. “He’s become a lot better attacking the rim. He’s a tough kid who doesn’t like to lose.”

At a practice this week, Casale was talking it up and encouraging his teammates. When one of their shots, or his, teetered on the rim, he used a little body English to get it to drop.

Boudreau is a confident floor leader whose ability to score can give opponents problems.

“Austin’s ability to get to the rim has helped his game,” said Soucie. “He knows how to play the game and has a very high basketball IQ. He’s an extension of me on the court.”

Boudreau lives in Old Orchard Beach and went to middle school in Saco.

“I wanted to go to Thornton Academy, but my mother insisted I go to Cheverus,” said Boudreau. “She said if I didn’t like it, I could leave after a year. I love it here. Everyone is here to push you to be better.”

Casale’s brother, father and grandfather went to Cheverus. He lives in North Deering.

“I could have gone to Portland or Deering. All my friends went to Portland. My brother, Ryan, didn’t decide to go to Cheverus until the last minute. I decided I might as well give it a try and I’ve really liked it here.”

Tom Chard can be reached at 791-6419 or at

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Twitter: TomChardPPH