Yarmouth’s Peter Psyhogeos (15) and Sutter Augur (22) leap for a rebound during a Jan. 8 game against Greely. Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographer

Two southern Maine boys’ basketball teams are emerging as top contenders in what figures to be an exciting and crowded field in the Class B South tournament.

Spruce Mountain is the top-ranked team with a 10-0 record, but Yarmouth (11-1) and York (7-2) are right behind in the standings.

Opposing coaches pegged Yarmouth as the preseason favorite because of its senior leadership and cohesive defense. The Clippers have only reinforced those views, going 11-1. The lone loss, against a good Lake Region squad, came when leading scorer and rebounder Peter Psyhogoes and defensive linchpin Sutter Augur were both out of action.

York, on the other hand, was more of an unknown. The Wildcats returned starters and senior captains JP Frazier and Will Bourgeois from last season. Along with junior forward Kevin Burke, they were the only players who played significant varsity minutes during last winter’s COVID-shortened season, the first under Coach Jerry Hill.

But after knocking off Class A South No. 1 Gray-New Gloucester, 68-66, on Tuesday, York has won seven straight and is just a few free throw misses away from being unbeaten. York was just 5 of 12 from the free-throw line in both its one-point overtime loss to Yarmouth in the season opener and a three-point loss to Class A Marshwood in its second game.

Yarmouth is built on defense. The specifics of the Clippers’ scheme will change from game-to-game, said Coach Jonas Allen, but the base is always half-court man-to-man.

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“Whether it’s zone, man-to-man, whatever it is, I think any defense can be great if all five guys on the court are fully bought in,” Allen said.

In Yarmouth’s first game after its loss, the focus was on stopping Freeport’s top scorers, Colby Arsenault and Blaine Cockburn, who together average nearly 30 points. Yarmouth held the duo to 11 points and kept Freeport 26 points below its scoring average in a 57-31 road win.

“Credit to Yarmouth. That’s what they do. They make you uncomfortable,” said Freeport Coach Tyler Tracy.

Psyhogoes is the offensive leader for Yarmouth, averaging 19.0 points. He’s also grabbing over nine rebounds a game. There was no rust from his one-game absence. Psyhogoes made his first three shots and five of his first eight against Freeport, scoring 15 of his game-high 23 points in barely 11 minutes.

“That’s just who he is. He never ceases to amaze me,” Allen said. “He’s all about the moment. He’s just one of those kids. You need something to be done, you ask him to do it, he gets it done.”

York’s Frazier, who was averaging 17.7 points prior to his 24-point effort against Gray-New Gloucester, shares a few similarities with Psyhogoes. Both are left-handed and have easy 3-point range. The 6-foot-4 Frazier may have a bit more offensive help, if York’s win against Gray is an indication.

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Burke and Bourgeois are controlling the backboards, with 10.8 and 9.7 rebounds per game, respectively. And Burke has a combination of quickness, strength and jumping ability that makes him tough to guard. Point guard Jake Fogg leads the team with 5.4 assists and fellow guard Trevor Parker is a dead-eye shooter.

In the third quarter on Tuesday, York put Burke at the point and let him attack the basket against Gray’s smaller defenders. He scored nine points in the quarter and had kick-out assists on 3-pointers by Fogg and Parker. Hill said the same tactic has worked well when Burke is being guarded by a bigger player, which is more often the case.

Overall, Class B South should be a fun tournament. Ten of the 15 teams have a winning record, including Medomak Valley (10-3) and Lisbon (9-2), currently ranked in the top five. Oceanside and Leavitt are both 8-3 and are eighth and 10th in the Heal point standings.

GRAY-NEW GLOUCESTER had won eight straight games prior to Tuesday’s loss at York. The Patriots are not a big team; undersized would be fair. What they do extremely well is share the ball and move it quickly. Nate Hebert and Jay Hawkes are the top scoring threats, but several other players can and will look to score, including reserves Anthony Prescott and Aidan Hebert.

They also showed they won’t be derailed by a bit of adversity. York started both the second and fourth quarters with forceful dunks – the first by Burke, the latter by Frazier – to extend leads and ramp up the home crowd. Both times, the Patriots coolly responded, rallied and took the lead back.

“Our guys really buckled down and responded after York’s runs tonight, so that’s what I’m pleased with,” Coach Ryan Deschenes said.

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Gray-New Gloucester hosts Yarmouth on Thursday. Although York and Yarmouth are in Class B, they’re among the toughest teams on the schedule for the Class A Patriots.

“We got a lot out of (the loss to York),” Deschenes said. “These are the games we need to prepare for the Class A tournament.”

GORHAM COACH Mark Karter is starting three sophomores and a freshman, so he knew things could be tough for the Rams in Class AA South. But over the last two weeks, Gorham is making things difficult for other teams. The Rams nearly upset Thornton Academy in a two-point loss, then beat Bonny Eagle on Tuesday, 63-46, for their fourth win in the last five games.

“It’s really tough to win in this league with young players, and they’ve worked really hard and are starting to click a little bit. It’s nice to see,” Karter said.

Ashton Leclerc has averaged over 20 points over that stretch, scoring in double figures each night. Against Bonny Eagle, he poured in 32 points with eight 3-pointers. Karter said Leclerc, a 6-foot guard, is “kind of unremarkable looking, but he’s strong and has a good handle,” and has learned how to create separation to get his shot off. “That’s hard for a lot of high school players to do. He’s worked real hard at it.”

Caden Smith and Gabe Michaud, the other sophomore starters, are also developing as secondary scorers.

LANDEN JOHNSON of Old Orchard Beach was leading the Western Maine Conference in scoring at 27.0 points per game as of last Friday, followed by Hunter Gibson of Poland at 25.7 points. Yarmouth’s Psyhogoes (19.0), York’s Frazier (17.7) and Greely’s Andrew St. Hilaire (17.1) round out the top five.


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