STANDISH — They already have won more than twice as many games as last season. They earned the No. 2 seed in Class AA South. They still think they are underrated.

And the boys’ basketball players at Bonny Eagle High – a school known more for football – will continue to embrace their perceived underdog status while trusting in first-year head coach John Trull.

He told the players that improvement only would come with increased time and effort.

“They bought into practice being three hours instead of an hour and a half, and the kids who have really committed are the ones who have risen to the occasion,” Trull said.

“I’ve been here since my freshman year and it’s been better every season,” said senior captain Will Hendrix, the team’s leading rebounder. “But this year we prepared a lot more. We watched film. We lifted every day. We succeeded because of the things we did and what Coach brought to the team.”

Bonny Eagle is 15-3 and will host No. 7 Massabesic (3-15) in a regional quarterfinal at 6 p.m. Wednesday. In three previous seasons under Coach Mike Francoeur, Bonny Eagle won a total of 15 games, going 2-16, 6-13 and 7-13 with a playoff win last season.

The Scots’ basketball history has had spotty successes.

The 1995 team won the Western Class A title, falling to Bangor 52-41 in the state final. After a lengthy fallow period, dynamic scoring guard Dustin Cole and youthful coach Phil Bourassa joined forces. Bonny Eagle went 70-14 with four straight trips to the Western Class A final from 2011-14. Bourassa coached one more season, getting his team to the tourney for a fifth straight year before resigning.

Then came the 2-16 record in 2016.

Trull, a middle school teacher and assistant football coach, took over after three years as an assistant under Francoeur.

“I knew how good these guys could be, being around the gym the last three years,” Trull said. “I knew they had a high ceiling but I don’t think many people projected (15) wins and that’s what we’re thriving on. We’ll continue to use that for motivation.”

Junior guard Zach Maturo, a three-year starter with a proven ability to use his quickness to get to the rim and convert against taller defenders, leads the team in scoring at 17.3 points per game, and averages 4.6 rebounds and a team-high 4.1 assists.

“We knew if we wanted to have a winning record during the season it couldn’t just be the one-hour, two-hour practices that we did,” Maturo said. “We all commit and it’s fun, also. We’re having fun practicing here.”

The extra work has translated into two other keys to winning: getting more players involved and finishing in close-game situations.

“We lost a lot of games last year by close scores and this year we’re more experienced, stronger, we work harder, and we’re winning those close ones and winning the games we should have won anyway,” Maturo said.

For example, senior Jackson Bean had 13 points and Hendrix scored 18 with the buzzer-beating basket in an 88-87 double-overtime win against Kennebunk. Cam Gardner hit seven 3-pointers in a late-season 62-54 win at Falmouth. Nate Ferris has become another inside banger and scored 11 key points in a 62-61 overtime win against Portland at the Expo.

Overall the Scots have won six games by five or fewer points – five by one or two points.

Sophomore 5-foot-8 guard Jacob Humphrey has epitomized the progress. As a freshman he advanced from freshman team to junior varsity reserve to junior varsity starter and ended up as a varsity tournament reserve. In the offseason, Humphrey continued to work on his game and his physique. This year he has become a secondary scorer, averaging 12.2 points and 3.8 rebounds, and shoots a team-best 37 percent on 3-pointers.

“I give a lot of credit to the coaches and our teammates because they push us to get better,” Humphrey said. “I know I’ve come a long way and it’s because of our team.”

Bonny Eagle had the best record in the South. Only North contenders Bangor and defending state champ Edward Little, both at 16-2, had better records in Class AA.

“I feel like we’re gaining some (respect) but not a lot yet, which I’m fine with,” Humphrey said. “It’s good to be the underdogs.”

Steve Craig can be reached at 791-6413 or:

[email protected]

Twitter: SteveCCraig

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.