Maddie Fitzpatrick of Cheverus High drives to the basket against Portland during a game in February. Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

1. Cheverus: The Stags are primed for a run at their first state championship. They have plenty of talent, athleticism and experience. While sophomore point guard Maddie Fitzpatrick is going to receive most of the attention (as she should), she has plenty of help. Fellow sophomore Emma Lizotte brings a big inside presence at 6-foot-1. Five seniors – Lillie Singleton, Julia Kratzer, Hayley Jordan, Maeve Kelly and Emily Bontatibus – will all play key roles. Cheverus may be the best of a deep Class AA field.

2. Gorham: The Rams have plenty of experience, with five players who have been in the program for four years. And they’re all talented. That means Gorham could make a run to another Class AA state title. Senior Anna Nelson is at the point and she’s one of the best at getting the ball to the right spot. This team has some good outside shooters and fearless inside players. They are all versatile and interchangeable.

3. Thornton Academy: The Trojans won only two games two years ago and played only six games in last winter’s shortened season, but they won them all and gained great confidence. Coach Eric Marston has two strong offensive threats in junior Jess Dow and sophomore Addisen Sulikowski. Mikenzie Melendez is starting her third year at the point. If the defense comes around, and that’s always been Marston’s forte, this team is going to be difficult to stop.

4. Wells: The Warriors won the Class B state title in 2020 and have seven players back from that group, led by seniors Grace Ramsdell and Grace Boucher. They provide a great foundation, as well as talent. Ramsdell is one of the top players in the state and Boucher is very heady at the point. Other players will fill vital roles for Coach Don Abbott. He just wants the team to keep improving, and he will incorporate some freshmen into the mix.

5. Falmouth: In what should be a tight Class A South race, the Navigators may have the edge. While Falmouth doesn’t have any seniors on its roster, Coach Dawn Armandi has an experienced and talented foundation, starting with junior point guard Sloane Ginevan. She sets the tone with her scoring (20.6 points a game last year) and defense. She has plenty of help, especially from junior forward Anna Turgeon, who averaged eight points and five rebounds last season.

Windham’s Sarah Talon, shown during a postseason game against Cheverus in 2020, will continue her basketball career next year at the University of Maine. Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer

6. Windham: The Eagles have one of the state’s best players in senior guard/forward Sarah Talon, who has signed with the University of Maine. Coach Brody Artes has a nice mix of veterans and newcomers, several of whom played on Windham’s state championship soccer team. “We’re hoping the success they had in the fall carries over,” he said. Defensively, Windham should be tough. But the Eagles need to develop a couple of consistent scorers besides Talon. If they do, this team will be tough to handle.

7. Massabesic: Looking for a dark horse team in Class AA? The Mustangs have four starters back from a team that went 9-1, losing only to Greely. They have an intriguing mix of offense and defense and are very athletic, and will likely push the ball as much as possible. “We want to make teams run with us and not play too much of a half-court game,” said Coach Chris Aube.

8. Greely: Yes, the Rangers are not as strong as they’ve been in the past. But success often breeds success and it would be unwise to count this team out. Greely is led by senior point guard Chelsea Graiver, one of the top players in the state. She will set the tone all over the court. She’s joined by returning players Kaiyla Delisle and Sophia Ippolito, who have improved their games greatly. Otherwise Greely is inexperienced, and Coach Todd Flaherty is counting on some young players developing into steady contributors.

9. Yarmouth: The Clippers went 9-2 last season, with both losses to Class A power Greely, and they have several key players returning from that group. Leading the way is senior point guard Katelyn D’Appolonia, a four-year starter who has remarkable court sense. Mayo Panozzo will be the top 3-point threat, and Ava Feeley and Amelia Skillin bring balance to the offense. “We have a great nucleus,” said Coach Dave Cousins. “If we can find some younger kids to find their roles, we could be fairly strong.”

10. Old Orchard Beach: Coach Dean Plante will play eight to 10 girls each night in an attempt to keep the tempo high. They will run, they will press and they will shoot. Junior guard Elise MacNair will be the leader, strong on defense, versatile on offense, capable of putting up big numbers. The Seagulls won’t waste much time trying to get the ball inside. They want to score and then harass opponents on defense. If that all comes together, they’ll be tough to beat in Class C South.

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