Both coaches made it very clear. What happened in football has no bearing on the Class B boys’ basketball state championship game Friday night between Wells (16-5) and Mt. Desert Island (16-5) at the Augusta Civic Center.

But you can’t ignore the obvious.

It was just over three months ago that a powerful Wells football team crushed MDI 44-0 to win the state Class C title. Now they meet on hardwood, with both basketball teams having starters who were key football players.

“I know they’re going to be wanting revenge for the football season, and I just want to take it right to them and hopefully get that second Gold Ball,” said Wells senior small forward Owen Berry, who played quarterback for the Warriors last fall.

Along with Berry, point guard Riley Dempsey (running back), guard Keegan Reidy (defensive back) and power forward Deandre Woods (defensive end) are basketball starters who were key members of the football team. Reserve forward Tyler Bridge also played football.

MDI’s starting junior guard Andrew Phelps was the Trojans’ quarterback. Leading rebounder and second-leading scorer Graham Good was a top inside linebacker. MDI basketball reserves Gus Reeves, Drew Rich, Colby Lee and James Carroll played football.

“I told my players that if I heard about the revenge thing one more time I was going to lose my mind,” said MDI basketball coach Justin Norwood.

“Dwelling on what happened three months ago, that’s not going to help us at all in this game.”

Wells Coach Troy Brown said he’s sent a similar message from the opposite perspective, making it clear that football success guarantees nothing.

But Brown does believe that the football success has had a tangible effect on his basketball team.

Wells returned a starting lineup that features five seniors. Woods, Dempsey and Berry are three-year starters, and Reidy and Tyler Dewey are two-year starters. But the group had a losing season as sophomores and did not meet its junior-year goal of winning a quarterfinal game at the Portland Expo.

“This year there was a lot more maturity in every practice. There was a lot more leadership. And I think there’s definitely a lot more toughness, and I think they got that from football,” Brown said.

Wells is making its first appearance in the state basketball final since winning the 1984 Class B title.

MDI last played in the championship game in 1995 and last won a state title in 1965.

While Wells football was a strong preseason favorite, the basketball team exceeded expectations by edging Spruce Mountain with a come-from-behind effort in the regional semifinals, then upsetting top-seeded Yarmouth 41-38 in the Class B South final.

Yarmouth had beaten Wells twice in the regular season, by 28 and 17 points.

Reserve 6-foot-4 forward Cameren Cousins had 13 points and 12 rebounds in a forceful performance against Yarmouth, offering a strong complement to the 6-3 Woods, who scored 16 points.

“The seniors have been in these situations a lot,” Woods said.

“We all just put our hard work on the court and showcased it. I rose to the occasion. The whole team rose to the occasion.”

Cousins didn’t play football but sees the positive impact of playing alongside champions.

“They have more confidence that they bring us because they’ve already played in the big games,” Cousins said. “It’s good knowing that if something goes the wrong way, they know how to get us out of it because they’ve already been in that spot.”

Woods said this year’s success, regardless of the sport, can be traced to when the players were grade-schoolers.

“The five seniors, we’ve played together since fourth grade. Played together every year since, so we’ve got a good bond,” Woods said.

And if Wells’ players need any more championship mojo they can look to their friends on the wrestling team, which won the Class B state title two weeks ago.

“We definitely have to keep up with the wrestlers,” Berry said. “And they’ll all be there Friday cheering for us because they want it as bad as we do.”

Steve Craig can be reached at 791-6413 or:

[email protected]

Twitter: SteveCCraig

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