Dan LeGage has plenty of reasons to like the way things are trending for his Westbrook High boys’ basketball team.

After a sluggish 4-4 start that included a couple head-scratching losses, Westbrook has won six of its last seven games, losing only to unbeaten Greely. With a commitment to tenacious defense, LeGage’s squad has climbed to No. 3 in Class A South with a 10-5 record.

The Blue Blazes have learned to “compete on every single possession,” LeGage said. They’re getting contributions from more players on offense and doing a better job of adjusting as opponents focus on stopping their lead scorer, Zac Manoogian.

Trouble is, in an ultra-competitive and unpredictable division, good feelings can disappear quickly.

“We have three games left and we could go 0-3, and I don’t think that would surprise anyone,” LeGage said. “And we could go 3-0 and I don’t think that would surprise anybody, either.”

Westbrook has home games against No. 6 Kennebunk (10-5) on Friday and No. 4 Falmouth (8-7) on Tuesday before finishing Thursday at No. 2 Biddeford (11-3).

If Westbrook continues to get balanced scoring, going 0-3 is unlikely.

Jeremiah Alado, who missed the first three games of the season because of a hip injury, appears to be rounding into form. He torched Marshwood for 30 points last Friday and followed with 11 in a win at Gorham on Tuesday. In the Gorham game, Deng Jany led the Blue Blazes with 18 points. Defensive specialist Abier Manyiel scored a dozen against Marshwood.

Along the way, Manoogian (16.4 points per game) has kept up his scoring pace.

“Teams come in and try to take away Zac’s scoring, and now Zac is distributing. He had seven or eight assists (against Marshwood),” LeGage said. “And guys like Alado, they have to be ready to finish, to understand what the other guys are doing to you. That’s what we’ve been doing the last five, six games.”

DEFENDING CLASS B South champ Wells has had a roller-coaster season that’s on the upswing.

Just two weeks ago, the Warriors lost their fourth game in five outings, falling at home to Gray-New Gloucester, 55-53. With a 6-5 record, Wells was staring at three games in four days that had all the markers of an 0-3 disaster: at Class A rival York (which was 9-3), hosting Yarmouth (the top-ranked team in B South), then Kennebunk (riding a 10-game winning streak).

It was time for some straight talk between coach and team.

“Right before we went to York, I spelled it out for them,” said Coach Troy Brown. “I told them, ‘I don’t know if we’re going to make the tournament.’ We were close to being on the outside looking in.”

Wells won all three games, each seemingly closer and harder-fought than the next, culminating with a double-overtime victory against Kennebunk. The Warriors avoided a letdown Tuesday, beating Class C Traip Academy, and are now 10-5 and have risen to No. 3 in the standings.

Not bad for a team that graduated its starting lineup.

Junior guard Matt Sherburne has led the team, with significant help from Cam Cousins and Tyler Bridge. Those three were the top reserves on the 2016-17 squad.

“I knew I returned those three kids who were good, but the expectations were higher for them,” Brown said. “I think that may be one reason we stumbled in midseason. It used to be we were looking for contributions from them, and now it was expectations. They may have struggled with that a bit.”

In the four-game winning streak, Sherburne has excelled as both primary ballhandler and top scorer. Brown said the 5-foot-10 guard had 15 defensive rebounds, four assists and four steals while scoring 22 points against Kennebunk.

“He lives, eats and sleeps basketball, probably even more than I do,” Brown said.

Like Westbrook’s LeGage, Brown is aware there’s still work to do in the regular season.

Wells is at Cape Elizabeth, the current No. 2 in Class B South, on Friday, then hosts Freeport and York next week.

THIS SEASON’S PARITY and unpredictability in boys’ basketball could translate into a fun couple days at the Portland Expo when the South quarterfinals begin Feb. 16.

“It won’t be fun for the coaches, but it will be fun for the fans. All quarterfinal games are at the Expo, and at least in Class A South, anything can happen,” said LeGage, adding that unbeaten Greely might be the one exception.

Class B is even tighter. Top-ranked Yarmouth has five losses. No. 8 Lake Region (7-8) has beaten No. 2 Cape Elizabeth and No. 3 Wells. No. 9 Freeport (8-7) just beat York, which is No. 5 in Class A South.

“It doesn’t matter if you’re No. 1 or No. 8, every game will be an all-out war. Those games are going to be phenomenal, mark my words,” Brown said.

GREELY IS THE only undefeated boys’ team left in the South (Hermon is 15-0 in Class B North). Thirteen of Greely’s 15 wins have been by 10 or more points.

“They have a little bit of everything. You try to take away the perimeter and they have a good inside game,” LeGage said. “You take away their transition, and they execute really well with their set plays in the half court.”

Steve Craig can be reached at 791-6413 or:

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