(Ed. Note: With the start of the basketball season delayed, what better time to look back and celebrate some of the great players of the past. Here’s a countdown of the top 20 boys’ basketball players over the past 20 years (plus five honorable mentions), from the 2001-02 season through the present. This countdown takes in account play at the high school level, considers players from The Forecaster’s core coverage area (Portland and the coastal suburbs) and was put together with help from coaches and others, including a Twitter poll at twitter.com/foresports, but the final ranking was mine alone…)

While the process of narrowing this list down to the very best of the best was daunting to say the least (a case could be made that players ranked 2 through honorable mention could have been in different spots), it did reinforce just how fortunate we’ve been to have so many tremendous players in our midst over the past two decades.

These players, six of whom were named Mr. Maine Basketball, scored a ton of points, came through in the clutch, sparkled on the big stage and brought home Gold Balls (18 combined among the group of 20), and they also made their teammates better with their unselfishness and leadership. We were all so lucky to get to witness their brilliance.

While no list of great players is finite, and is certainly never unanimously embraced, here’s one writer’s stab at getting the discussion started. Congratulations to the very best of the best.

Honorable mentions:
Aaron Spaulding, Cape Elizabeth (1999-2002)
Sean Costigan, Cheverus (2003-2006)
Darren Mastropaolo, Falmouth (2001-2004)
Mike McDevitt, Greely (2011-2014)
Coleman Findlay, South Portland (2004-2007)

20) Josh Britten, Yarmouth (2009-2012)

File photos

Britten epitomized the concept of saving your best for last, as his senior season saw him dazzle and lead the Clippers to their first state championship in over four decades.

Britten, who also played soccer and lacrosse during an injury-plagued high school career, was a four-year contributor to a Yarmouth basketball program that got better each winter. After scoring over 20 points per game as a junior, only to see the Clippers lose to Cape Elizabeth in the regional final, Britten’s senior season is one that will live on in school lore. Britten led the Western Maine Conference in scoring (21.8 points per game) and steals (4.3) while ranking fifth in assists (3.4) and ninth in rebounding (6.9). Along the way, he blew past the 1,000-point mark for his career (graduating with a program record 1,331). In Yarmouth’s run to its first championship since 1968, Britten had 22 points and nine steals in a rout of Lincoln Academy in the quarterfinals, 15 points, five rebounds and three steals in a victory over Spruce Mountain in the semifinals and 12 points in an upset win over undefeated Falmouth in the Western B Final. In a state game victory over Gardiner at the old Bangor Auditorium, Britten wound up with 29 points, five rebounds, four assists, four steals and three blocked shots. He then was a semifinalist for the Mr. Maine Basketball award. Britten went on to play basketball at Bates College in Lewiston and as he did in high school, he saved his best for last there, putting up his most impressive stats and serving as a captain his senior season.

Coach Adam Smith:  “Josh is relentless with his play and his positive energy radiated throughout this team. Josh is stubborn, intense and loves competition. His attitude is contagious. He brought his game every night. He’s a smart player. What he did in the tournament is a testament to the time and effort he put in. I’m glad he was ours.”

19) Theo Bowe, Cape Elizabeth (2008-2011)

The argument over which Bowe brother was the best has likely consumed countless hours at the family’s Cape Elizabeth dinner table, but based his superb career and a transcendent final act, Theo Bowe gets a slight edge over Alex and Finn (youngest brother Will is still playing for the Capers).

Bowe, a slasher with great court sense, was a scorer extraordinaire who was at his best in big games, but his unselfishness stood out as well and as a result, he won a lot of games in his time in a Capers uniform. Theo Bowe followed in Alex Bowe’s successful footsteps and by his junior season, was a top player in the Western Maine Conference. As a senior, Bowe averaged 25.2 points per game. He scored 19 in a regional final win over Yarmouth, won the regional tournament MVP, then absolutely dazzled in the state final against heavily favored Camden Hills, scoring 36 points as Cape Elizabeth held a halftime lead, but couldn’t hold it. Bowe was a semifinalist for Mr. Maine Basketball and wound up attending Northeastern University in Boston, but he didn’t play basketball in college. He recently graduated from Harvard Medical School and is completing a medical residency in Philadelphia.

Coach Jim Ray: “Theo always rises to the occasion. It’s entertaining to watch him do his thing. He just added another dimension to our team with his talent and leadership. He’s not in it for himself. He’s not at all selfish on how he approaches the game, but he’s going to do what he needs to do without hesitation. He laid it all on the line for us.”

18) Matt McDevitt, Greely (2014-2017)

Both Matt McDevitt and his older brother, Michael McDevitt, were terrific players for the Greely Rangers, but the younger McDevitt got to taste the thrill of winning a state title and also was named Mr. Maine Basketball, earning him this spot.

McDevitt, who played at 6-foot-7, made the varsity team at Greely as a freshman and played with his brother. As a sophomore, he became a starter and it wasn’t long before he emerged as a star. McDevitt averaged 16.2 points per game as a sophomore and was a second-team league all-star. As a junior, he made the first-team and averaged 15.4 points per contest. As a senior, McDevitt was sixth in the league in scoring average (15.9), made 43 3-pointers, drained 91 percent of his free throws and was 12th in assists (3.1). He came up big during the Rangers’ run to their first championship in two decades, scoring 17 points in a quarterfinal round victory over Kennebunk, tallying 16 points, including the go-ahead 3-pointer in the fourth quarter, in a semifinal round win over York and 11 more in a regional final victory over Falmouth. In the state game, Greely took it to Messalonskee early, as McDevitt scored 13 first quarter points and ended up with 23 (including the 1,000th point of his career). After earning the Mr. Maine Basketball award, McDevitt went on to play basketball at Endicott College in Beverly, Massachusetts.

Coach Travis Seaver: Matt’s such a competitor and great kid. He wanted the ball with the game on the line. He’s a tough matchup. He had the ability to carry us. We didn’t need that every night, but when we did, he could do it. I’m glad he was a Ranger

17) Austin DeAngelis, Cheverus (2000-2003)

DeAngelis helped Cheverus return to prominence after Bob Brown came on board as the Stags’ coach. He came oh-so-close to winning a championship his senior season and is still fondly remembered as a program stalwart nearly two decades after he graduated.

DeAngelis, a 6-foot guard, won just one game his freshman year and only seven as a sophomore, but Cheverus became a power his junior season and DeAngelis was a big reason why, as he averaged 20 points per game. With the arrival of Jeff Holmes, DeAngelis took over as point guard his senior campaign and while his scoring average dipped to 16 per game, the Stags were even stronger and they made a run all the way to the Class A state final, highlighted by an epic triple-overtime win over Westbrook in the semifinals, where DeAngelis scored 16 points, including an improbable four-point play to force a second OT. DeAngelis added 16 points in a regional final win over Edward Little and was named regional tournament MVP. In the state game, Cheverus dropped an overtime heartbreaker to Bangor, as DeAngelis scored eight points. DeAngelis went on to play junior college basketball at Oxford College of Emory in Oxford, Georgia, then played at the Division II level at Clayton State in Morrow, Georgia.

Coach Bob Brown: “Austin can pull up and hit the 12-foot jump shot or he can take it to the basket. He’s like a snake. He can shoot well but he can also drive. You don’t see that very often from a high school player. The biggest thing about Austin is that he has matured as a kid. You see that in everything he does.”

16) Thomas Coyne, Falmouth (2013-2016)

Coyne personified grace under pressure, never met a shot he didn’t like, or couldn’t make, and if it weren’t for an untimely injury, would have wound up even higher in this countdown.

Coyne made an immediate impression as a freshman, playing a supporting role in Falmouth’s drive to the Class B state final (he scored 14 points in the state game victory over Medomak Valley). Coyne enjoyed another strong campaign as a sophomore, then missed almost all of his junior season with a foot injury. He then made up for lost time as a senior, averaging 25.3 points per game and was also first in the Western Maine Conference in assists (5.1), second in made 3-pointers (47) and fourth in steals (2.9). In the Yachtsmen’s run to their first Class A championship, Coyne scored a game-high 18 points against Cape Elizabeth in the semifinals, added 21 in a regional final win over Brunswick and he tallied 16 more, with five rebounds and four assists, as Falmouth handled Oceanside in the state game. Coyne, who played his final three high school seasons with his talented younger brother, Colin Coyne, was named the regional tournament MVP as a senior and was a finalist for Mr. Maine Basketball before going on to star in college at Bates College in Lewiston.

Coach Dave Halligan: “I’ve been a much better coach with Thomas. We’ve been blessed to watch him play for four years. If you’re a high school basketball junkie, this is the type of player you want to watch. Every basket Thomas got seemed to be a big basket. That’s what he’s done for us for four years. Great seniors can carry a team on their shoulders and Thomas was one of them.”

15) Martin Cleveland, Deering (2003-2006)

Cleveland was a man among boys, turning heads at both ends of the floor, and he played an integral role in leading the Rams to their first-ever state championship.

Cleveland, who stood an imposing 6-foot-6 in high school, made the Southwestern Maine Activities Association All-Rookie team as a sophomore, but Deering lost in the preliminary round of the playoffs. As a junior, Cleveland teamed with Cheverus transfer Carlos Strong and helped Deering make a surprising run to the state game, but he got in foul trouble in against Hampden Academy and the Rams went down to a frustrating defeat. Cleveland and his teammates wouldn’t be denied in his senior season, however. Cleveland averaged 15.6 points, eight rebounds, and three blocked shots and helped Deering get back to the state game and this time, beat Hampden Academy. In the final, Cleveland scored 10 points with 14 rebounds and three blocks. He also helped hold the Broncos’ 6-10 center Jordan Cook to 11 points. Cleveland played college basketball at Husson College, Franklin Pierce University and Thomas College and saw two tours of duty with the Army in Iraq.

Coach Dan LeGage: “Martin was unbelievable. An excellent player. He was like the Shaquille O’Neal of Maine basketball. He came a long way and had a tremendous upside. The combination of Martin’s size, strength and skill, along with his no fear approach,  is what allowed him dominate both ends of the floor.”

14) Stefano Mancini, Falmouth (2007-10)

Mancini had star written all over him from the time he took the floor as a freshman, but he wasn’t able to taste a championship until his very last game, an epic victory which ensured Mancini will be remembered as an all-time Yachtsmen great.

Mancini, a 6-foot-1 point guard, who also played quarterback for three years on the Falmouth football team, made tons of big shots and got his share of rebounds, steals and assists as well. Everything came together for Mancini and the Yachtsmen his senior season, as Falmouth won every game but one and captured a Class B championship for the first time. Mancini averaged 21.7 points, leading the Yachtsmen for the third year in a row. He also was fourth in steals (2.4) and fifth in assists (3.9). Mancini came up huge in the postseason, as he scored 24 points in a quarterfinal round win over York, 28 in a semifinal round victory over Mountain Valley and 24 to dethrone two-time reigning regional champion Cape Elizabeth in the Western B Final (Mancini was named the regional tournament MVP). In an overtime victory over Camden Hills in a memorable state final, Mancini overcame foul trouble and scored 27 points to help the Yachtsmen win the crown. He would cap his high school career by being named Gatorade Player of the Year and a Mr. Maine Basketball finalist.  For his career, Mancini had 1,281 points, 264 assists, 241 boards, 165 steals and made 180 3-pointers. Mancini walked-on at the University of Maine and later played at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside and at Loyola University in Maryland.

Coach Dave Halligan: “Stefano has been an integral member of our highly successful program. A great deal of our success is directly attributable to his skills, desire and positive attitude. Every time he takes the court, he seems to take his game to a new level. He’s always been dedicated to the success of the team and is willing to sacrifice his game for the benefit of the team. Yet, when called upon, he’s also willing to take the responsibility for making the critical defensive play or important shot. He makes the players around him better and has served as an outstanding role model for our younger players and the youth of the community both on and off the court.”

13) Andrew Duncanson, Westbrook (2004-2005) Portland (2006-2007)

Duncanson only played two seasons for the Bulldogs, but did he ever make an impact, scoring a ton of points and leading Portland to the state final his senior year.

Duncanson, a 5-foot-9 guard, demonstrated speed and shooting ability throughout his time in high school. Duncanson played for Westbrook High as a freshman and a sophomore, made the move to Portland for his junior season and became a first-team league all-star after averaging 19 points per contest as the Bulldogs reached the regional semifinals before losing to eventual state champion Deering. As a senior, Duncanson averaged 19.9 points per game, also led the Southwestern Maine Activities Association in steals (3.6 per game) and was second in assists (4.9 per game) and Portland got all the way to the Class A state final before losing to Bangor. Duncanson later played at Thomas College in Waterville.

Coach Joe Russo: “Andrew could score from the paint out to the 3-point line and he was a great defender. He scored 800 points in just two years with us. He always made some big baskets. He was very consistent for us. His work ethic was contagious and it set the tone for the team.”

12) Logan Bagshaw, Greely (2017-2020)

Bagshaw was a scoring machine and a flat-out winner and even when opposing defenses geared up to stop him first and foremost, he usually left them crestfallen and frustrated.

Bagshaw, a 6-foot-3 guard, joined his talented older brother, Jordan Bagshaw, on the Greely varsity in 2016-17, his freshman season, and for three years was part of a Rangers squad which went on to win the Class A state title. As a junior, Bagshaw averaged 19.1 points, 3.1 rebounds and 3.8 assists and made 71 3-pointers. In Bagshaw’s senior campaign, Greely would lose to eventual regional champion York in the semifinals, but he excelled yet again, averaging a league-best 27 points per game, while setting school records for the most 3-pointers in a career and game. Bagshaw eclipsed the 1,000-point mark for his career, was a finalist for Mr. Maine Basketball and is now playing at Southern Connecticut State University.

Coach Travis Seaver: “Logan was such a dangerous scorer. He just had a winner’s mentality. He always wanted the ball. He showed he could play on both ends of the floor. I think he’s one of the best players in the state, if not the best, because he has the ability and confidence. He’s a special player and it’s been remarkable to coach him.”

11) Mick DiStasio, Cheverus (2006-2009)

DiStasio welcomed every challenge and proved to be one of the finest big-game performers this century as he led Cheverus to a lot of wins, including an upset victory in the 2008 Class A state final.

DiStasio, who also played football and baseball at Cheverus, averaged 12 points per game as a sophomore, then made 40 3-pointers as a junior, when he was the league’s second highest scorer (21.6 per game). DiStasio then came alive in the tournament, helping the Stags finally dethrone Portland (winning regional tournament MVP honors in the process) before scoring 23 points (19 in the second half) as Cheverus rallied to beat favored Bangor, 49-41, in the Class A state final. As a senior, DiStasio set school records while leading the league in steals per game (4.2) and making 60 3-point shots. He was the SMAA’s Co-Player of the year (with South Portland’s Keegan Hyland), as well as the recipient of the conference’s Randall Award as its outstanding player-sportsman. Cheverus was undefeated until being upset by eventual state champion Thornton Academy in the regional semifinals. DiStasio was a finalist for the Mr. Maine Basketball award and went on to play college basketball at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut.

Coach Bob Brown: “Mick was my best pure shooter. He was a great captain. He’s bigger and stronger than a lot of kids he plays against. He plays as a man against boys out there. He drilled big shots and showed immense amounts of character. He’s developed quickness and anticipates really well. He became our all-time steals leader. He’s an exceptional young man and a real leader.”

10) Indiana Faithfull, Cheverus (2007-2010)

While Faithfull is best remembered for finding himself embroiled in an off-the-court to-do that was none of his doing, he should be recalled for entering our consciousness as the instant star with the unique name and his ability to play at a championship level.

Faithfull, a 6-foot-2 point guard who hails from Australia, immediately showed he could excel in North America, by hitting shots, playing great defense and doing the intangibles that his Hall of Fame coach Bob Brown loved. Faithfull helped Cheverus win a state championship as a sophomore when he was the league’s Rookie of the Year, helped the Stags to an undefeated season his junior year, earning all-conference mention after leading the SMAA in assists (6.1 per game), then was a huge part of another championship team his senior season, but it came with a cost. And an asterisk. In 2009-10, Faithfull led the league in steals, was second in the league in assists, scored clutch hoops and anchored a dominant defense, but after the first school semester ended, it was learned that Faithfull had used up his eight high school semesters, due to the difference in the calendar between Australia and the United States. It appeared Faithfull’s high school career was over, but just hours before the tournament began, a lawsuit brought by his family claiming discrimination on his country of origin was upheld and Faithfull suited up. Cheverus went on to capture the championship, as Faithfull scored 22 points in the regional final and added 23 in the state game. The Stags would ultimately have to vacate that championship. Faithfull finished his high school career with an average of 11.2 points per game, as well as 239 rebounds, 232 assists and 181 steals. He was named Mr. Maine Basketball his senior season and went on to play at Wofford College in Spartanburg, South Carolina.

Coach Bob Brown: “Indiana really is a classy kid. He stepped in and started for me for three years. With him on the floor, we lost four games in three years. He’s a great kid. Coachable. The stats don’t show the fact the he played the top of our league leading defense in three consecutive years. Any opposing coach would tell you how much of an intimidating factor he was. His long reach and quickness caused many deflections and resulted in many steals by his teammates. You put the ball in his hands and you win. It’s nice.”

9) Tyler Emmons, Portland (2002-2005)

Emmons went from being one of many stars on a championship team to graduating as the best player in the state. He was tough, competitive and rose to the occasion in big spots.

Emmons made the SMAA All-Rookie team as a freshman, was a third-team all-star as a sophomore and as a junior, helped a loaded Portland team live up to preseason billing and win the Class A state title. Emmons would win the regional tournament MVP after scoring 22 points against Cheverus in the regional final, as the Bulldogs avenged their only loss. Portland then held off Brunswick in overtime to capture the championship. Emmons, a second-team league all-star as a junior, then had a fabulous senior campaign, leading the league in rebounding (16.5 per game), as well as placing third in scoring (17.2 points) and adding 4.7 assists and 2.4 steals. The Bulldogs’ title reign ended with a semifinal round loss to Deering. Emmons, who finished with 943 career points, was named Mr. Maine Basketball and went on to play at Lynn University in Florida and Caldwell College in New Jersey.

Coach Joe Russo: “Tyler loves basketball. What he’s best at is having an instinct for the ball. He has a nose for it. He was a man among boys. He could shoot 3s, but we didn’t need him to score. He was great underneath. A real beast on the boards. He scored a lot of points on second effort. He can shoot. A jack of all trades, he has strength, aggressiveness and hustle. He’s a fluent player, he’s graceful and he gets it done.”

8) Walter Phillips, Cheverus (1999) Deering (2000-2002)

Phillips was a showman and a superstar, a player who could impress with his skill and effervescence as he teamed with Nik Caner-Medley and Jamaal Caterina to create an absolute juggernaut.

Phillips, a 6-foot-1 guard/forward who could run, jump and shoot, who also starred in football in high school, played at Cheverus his freshman year, then transferred to Deering. After a strong sophomore year, Phillips and Company won the Rams’ first regional title in 64 seasons as a junior, as his 21 points in a regional final victory over Westbrook helped earn Phillips regional tournament MVP honors. Deering wouldn’t have a happy ending, however, as it lost to Bangor in the state final on an improbable buzzer-beater (Phillips scored 14 points in defeat). As a senior, Phillips helped the Rams win a second consecutive regional title, but they again fell in the state game, this time to Brunswick (Phillips bowed out with 19 points). Phillips was a semifinalist for the Mr. Maine Basketball award, then went on to play at Dean College in Franklin, Massachusetts and the University of Southern Maine. Phillips is now well-known on the AAU circuit and often finds himself courtside for big tournament games where his oversized personality continues to shine.

Coach Mike Francoeur: “Walter’s a special kid. Everyone knows Walt. They call him a social butterfly around here. Sometimes I have to get him out of the hall and into class. He keeps the team loose, but when it’s time to work, the son of a gun works hard.”

7) Terion Moss, Portland (2015-2018)

Moss scored plenty of points, set up teammates brilliantly, won a lot of games and earned plenty of recognition during a Golden Era of Portland basketball.

Moss, who at 5-foot-9 seemed born to play the point guard position, joined his talented older brother, Amir Moss, on the Bulldogs varsity as a freshman in 2014-15 and was part of a regional championship squad. He then won two straight Class AA championships while being named a first-team league all-star as a sophomore (ranking second in the conference in both assists with 5.1 per game and steals with 3.8) and doing so again as a junior after averaging 17.6 points, 3.6 assists and an SMAA-best 3.7 steals per game while making 52 percent of his shots, including 42 percent of his 3-pointers and scoring 22 points in a state game win over South Portland. After quarterbacking the Portland football team to the regional final in the fall of his senior year, Moss excelled again, averaged 19.9 points, 6.2 rebounds, 4.6 assists and 2.9 steals while making 40 3-pointers. The Bulldogs were upset by Windham in the regional semifinals, but overall, he won 76 of his program-record 84 games over four seasons, graduated with a program-best 113 made 3-pointers and finished second in program annals with 1,130 points. Moss capped his high school career by being chosen Maine’s boys’ Gatorade Player of the Year for the second time and becoming just the third Portland High player to earn Mr. Maine Basketball honors. Moss went on to play collegiately at the University of Maine and the University of Maine-Farmington.

Coach Joe Russo: “Terion was tremendous. He shot well and ran the team. He made good decisions. He played a great floor game for us. He showed leadership and outstanding coachability. Terion was just a great point guard. He epitomized that position. He did it all, scoring a ton, distributing the ball. He was so tough to guard.”

6) Jack Simonds, Falmouth (2012-2015)

Simonds was Mr. Consistency during his time in a Falmouth uniform, but there was one evening when he took his game to a transcendent level, forever etching his name in legend. In reality, he just did everything exceptionally well.

Simonds, who played at 6-foot-5, saw varsity time as a freshman, then played an integral role as a sophomore, helping the Yachtsmen win the Class B title (he scored 19 points in a regional final victory over York, then finished with 21 points in a state game victory over Medomak Valley). Falmouth moved up to Class A for Simonds’ junior year, but it didn’t matter to the standout, who made the all-star team and continued to average in double figures (16 points, 10.4 rebounds) while leading the Yachtsmen to the semifinals. As a senior, Simonds eclipsed 1,000 career points, averaged 23.4 points and 10.7 rebounds per game and sparkled in the tournament, converting the winning three-point play to beat upset-minded Westbrook in the quarterfinals, then tying a record with 42 points in a stunning upset win over South Portland in the semifinals. Simonds scored 23 more points in the regional final against defending state champion Portland, but Falmouth fell short. Simonds finished with 1,101 points, 612 rebounds and 104 assists and would be named a Mr. Maine Basketball finalist before going on to star at Bowdoin College in Brunswick.

Coach Dave Halligan: “Jack’s a special player who makes players around him better. I don’t know where we’d be without him. He put us on his shoulders. That’s what captains do. What made him difficult to cover was his ability to play inside or outside. He’s probably the best shooter. He’s got a sweet stroke. Big time players have a way of doing that. You can’t coach that.”

5) Rocco Toppi, Portland (2001-2004)

Toppi didn’t just become Portland’s second 1,000-point scorer, he truly did a little of everything for a top contender which finally broke through and became a team for the ages his senior year, after Toppi came up huge time and again to prevent his Bulldogs from being upset by Ralph Mims’ tour de force.

Toppi, who also starred in golf and baseball for Portland High, really stood out on the basketball court. Standing 6-foot-4, Toppi could score inside and out, as well as rebound, defend and run the floor. He played with a noticeable calm, but could be fiery when necessary. Toppi was an honorable mention league all-star as a sophomore, averaging 12 points and seven rebounds per game. As a junior, Toppi got even better, making the SMAA first-team while averaging 17.3 points and 9.4 rebounds. The Bulldogs were a veritable all-star team Toppi’s senior season and were favored to win the Class A state title. They wouldn’t disappoint, as Toppi eclipsed the 1,000-point plateau (something only Robert Pillsbury had done in the program’s long history to that point). Portland lost just one game all season and Toppi again was a first-team all-star and was named the league’s MVP, averaging 17.6 points and 9.1 rebounds, while draining 37 3-pointers. Toppi scored 14 points as the Bulldogs beat Cheverus in the regional final, avenging their only loss of the season. Then, against Brunswick in the state game, with Mims scoring 46 points for the upset-minded Dragons, Toppi did his best to counter, scoring 28 points, including seven in overtime, as Portland survived and took home the Gold Ball. Toppi was then a finalist for the state’s Mr. Maine Basketball award and went on to play at Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts.

Coach Joe Russo: “Rocco is considered by many to be one of the best all-around players in Portland history. He was multi-talented. If I asked him to step in and rebound, he’d do it. He was clutch when he had to be. In that (2004 Class A state final), every time (Ralph) Mims would score, Rocco would score. Otherwise, we wouldn’t have won that game.”

4) Bryant Barr, Falmouth (2003-2006)

Barr was a cold-blooded shooting assassin from the moment he put on a Falmouth uniform and he blossomed into the state’s finest player as a senior, before going on to a memorable college career, which led to a lifelong friendship with one of the best-known stars in the world.

Barr’s freshman campaign saw him begin his legend with a half-court buzzer beater to shock Yarmouth. As a sophomore, Barr, who also served as the goalie on the Yachtsmen’s perennially strong boys’ soccer team, made the Western Maine Conference second-team as Falmouth enjoyed an undefeated regular season. Barr’s junior year saw him make the first-team and lead the Yachtsmen to regional final. Barr wound up second in the WMC in scoring with 23.0 points per game. He also set a school record with 39 points in a game against Cape Elizabeth, but that record wouldn’t last. As a senior, Barr eclipsed the 1,000-point plateau, re-set the program single game scoring record with 40 points in a victory over Freeport and again helped Falmouth get to the Western B Final.  Barr led the league with 25.5 points per game. He also averaged 6.5 rebounds and 3.9 assists per contest. He shot 82 percent from the free-throw line and set a school single-season record with 52 3- point goals. Barr graduated as the program’s all-time leading scorer (1,464 points) and 3-point shooter (172 made). He was named Mr. Maine Basketball as a senior, then went on to play at Davidson College in North Carolina, where as a sophomore, he played a supporting role on a Steph Curry-led Cinderella squad which got to the Elite 8 and nearly upset eventual national champion Kansas. Barr and Curry remain good friends to this day. Barr remains a Falmouth legend to this day as well.

Coach Dave Halligan: “Bryant stepped up, like all great players do. He did a little of everything for us. Big-time players have to step up and Bryant did that for us. He worked really hard at his game. He’s a kid who made the most of any opportunity that was presented. He’s a basketball junkie. He’s a terrific role model.”

3) Keegan Hyland, South Portland (2007-2010)

Hyland ate, drank and slept basketball unlike anyone else. He burst into our consciousness as a fabulous freshman and dazzled throughout his high school career. Were it not for an injury-plagued senior campaign, Hyland might have wound his way even higher up this list.

Hyland, a 6-foot-4 guard, who simply couldn’t be defended, was notorious for shooting hundreds and hundreds of shots every single day and that single-mindedness paid off immediately when he joined the South Portland varsity as a freshman. As a freshman, Hyland, who also played tennis (for his father, Tom Hyland) in high school, was named the SMAA Rookie of the Year. As a sophomore, he led South Portland to a 15-win season and the regional semifinals, led the league in scoring and free throw percentage and was named to the SMAA first team. As a junior, Hyland was close to unstoppable, averaging 27.7 points per contest. He was also second in made 3-pointers, sixth in free throws, ninth in steals and 11th in assists and along with Cheverus’ Mick DiStasio, was chosen the Co-SMAA Player of the Year. Prior to his senior season, Hyland fractured his pelvic bone and as a result, only played in one regular season game. True to form, Hyland made the most of that one, scoring 18 points and helping the Red Riots upset previously undefeated Cheverus in the regular season finale. After scoring 17 points in a quarterfinal round victory over Deering, Hyland then produced one final tournament memory, scoring 32 points in the semifinals, but South Portland was ousted in overtime by Westbrook. Hyland was a finalist for Mr. Maine Basketball, then embarked on a journey which saw him go to Gonzaga University in Spokane, Washington, the University of Vermont, Fairfield University in Connecticut and finally star again at Bentley University in Waltham, Massachusetts.

Coach Phil Conley: “Keegan’s a great player who works extremely hard at the game. I’m so proud of what he accomplished. He can shoot the ball. He can penetrate and score and he’s a great passer, but the most important thing is that he’s a great team player. He wants us to win first.”

2) Carlos Strong, Cheverus (2003-2004), Deering (2005-2006)

Strong came to Deering from Cheverus and immediately became one of the most important players in program history, leading the Rams to an improbable regional title his junior year, then finally helping Deering win its first elusive championship as a senior.

Strong, a 6-foot-2 guard, made the SMAA All-Rookie team as a sophomore at Cheverus, but he was chomping at the bit for an opportunity to star and he transferred to Deering prior to his junior year in high school. He then did that very thing, blossoming into a first-team all-star, leading the league in scoring with 18.5 points per game, to go with 3.3 steals and 3.1 assists, and with some help from a solid, existing core of Rams veterans, he willed his team all the way to the state final. Deering upset defending Class A champion Portland in the semifinals (Strong scored 22 points), then upset Cheverus in the regional final, as Strong scored 16 points and was named the regional tournament’s MVP. In the state final, Strong scored 18 points, but the foul-plagued Rams lost to Hampden Academy. That was only an appetizer for what came Strong’s senior year. A state title. Strong averaged 19.5 points, 3.5 assists and 2.4 steals, then became the back-to-back winner of the regional tournament MVP, as Deering held off Portland in the final (Strong scored 29 points). Awaiting in the state game again was Hampden Academy, but this time, the Rams completed the job, 47-37, as Strong, mired in foul trouble in the first half, sparked a third quarter rally, scoring seven of his nine points, including a 3-pointer which put the Rams on top for good. Strong was named Maine Gatorade Player of the Year as a senior, then went on to play at Boston University.

Coach Dan LeGage: “Carlos understands what needs to be done for the team to be successful. In my opinion, Carlos never really got the acclaim he may have deserved. Carlos led us to two state championship appearances, he was a statistical leader, a motivational leader. Carlos still put up the numbers even though defenses were designed to stop him. He played at a high level. He was a Division 1 player and had a professional career. That’s a pretty impressive resume.”

1) Nik Caner-Medley, Deering (1999-2002)

Caner-Medley, a legend then and now, was a once-in-a-lifetime superstar, who got the job done with size, strength and athleticism and for a time, elevated his Deering Rams to must-see status. Caner-Medley never won an elusive state title, but accomplished just about everything else a Maine high school player can achieve and clearly remains King Nik to this day:

Caner-Medley, who played in high school at 6-foot-7, made an immediate impact as a freshman, scoring in double figures and being named the Southwestern Maine Activities Association’s Rookie of the Year. As a sophomore, Caner-Medley made the SMAA second-team and averaged 17 points and seven rebounds per game. Deering took it to the next level, Caner-Medley’s junior year, as he teamed with fellow standouts Jamaal Caterina and Walter Phillips to make it to the Class A state final for the first time while also weighing recruiting offers from schools all over the map. Caner-Medley averaged 27 points and 13.5 rebounds and had 39 slam dunks and the Rams were unbeaten until the buzzer of the state final, when they were stunned by Bangor in one of the most memorable state games ever played. Caner-Medley scored 16 points and grabbed nine rebounds in the loss, but fouled out late. Prior to his senior season, Caner-Medley announced he would play at the University of Maryland. Caner-Medley then set out to capture the state championship that eluded him his junior season, but again, Deering would fall short, losing to Brunswick on the big stage. Caner-Medley, however, was sensational, averaging 36.5 points, 15.6 rebounds, 4.6 assists and 4.2 steals. His 1,641 career points remains a school record and he also holds the program’s single-game scoring record (51 points against South Portland). Caner-Medley did win the Maine Gatorade Player of the Year and Mr. Maine Basketball awards as a senior. He turned heads at Maryland and embarked on a long professional career. His name forever remains synonymous with basketball excellence in Maine.

Coach Mike Francoeur: “Nik’s the best high school player I’ve ever seen. It was a great experience for me to coach him. I’m very proud of what Nik accomplished. Nik has size, strength and mobility. He dropped some big numbers on big teams. He did it all on the court.”

Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter: @foresports.

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