Thornton Academy senior William Davies is the only returning Varsity Maine All-State player in southern Maine. Derek Davis/Staff Photographer

1. Thornton Academy: The Golden Trojans have reached the Class AA South final four times in the past five competitive seasons (and were loaded in 2020-21 when MPA tournaments were not held). Coach Bob Davies’ squad has the talent and depth to get back to the regional final. William Davies, a 6-foot-3 senior guard, is the only returning Varsity Maine All-State player in southern Maine. He’s increased his shooting range and is stronger than a season ago, when he averaged 17.6 points, 5.6 rebounds and a league-best 5.8 assists. Braden Camire is a top-tier 3-point shooter. Alessio Marcus leads a front court that should get help from 6-3 senior Eddie Macomber. Mac Lowe, a 6-4 senior, is long and athletic and coming off a strong football season.

2. South Portland: The defending Class AA state champion returns only two starters – senior guards Jaelen Jackson (14.4 points, 4.3 rebounds, 4.4 assists) and Joey Hanlon. While the transfer of 6-foot-11 Tennessee commit JP Estrella to Brewster Academy is the biggest loss, the Red Riots will also have to make up for Owen Maloney’s all-around game and leadership, as well as the rebounding of Nolan Hobbs, a starter a year ago who opted to focus on baseball in his senior year. Gabe Galarraga is a versatile big man who was a key reserve last season. This will be a guard-driven team, with Ben Smith and Jayden Kim key returners. Coach Kevin Millington says there is talent in each class, so newcomers should emerge.

3. Bonny Eagle: The Scots are another Class AA South power that some coaches consider the favorite because they return 10 varsity players, including 6-foot-8 center Elliot Bouchard, who led the league in rebounding (12.4), was among the top scorers (17.6), and is primed for an even stronger senior season. Junior guard Terrell Edwards will shift to more of a shooting guard role with the emergence of senior Hayden Campbell as the point guard. Brandt Abbott and sturdy 6-4 forward Dom Gordon will strengthen the Scots’ zone defense. Off the bench, guards Lucas Drinkwater and CJ Cooper can add energy and scoring, while 6-4 junior Kaden Sullivan can give Bouchard a break or play alongside him for a big lineup.

Remijo Wani, left, has transferred from Deering to Portland. He averaged 18 points per game last winter, but will be sidelined by a knee injury early this season. Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

4. Portland: The Bulldogs were ranked second in Class AA North in the preseason coaches’ poll behind defending regional champion Oxford Hills. They return several players from a team that went 11-7 in the regular season before a close quarterfinal loss to Cheverus. Quality returners like forwards Pitia Donato (7.2 points per game) and Jeissy Khamis (6.4 points, 4.5 rebounds) and guards Brady Toher and Kennedy Charles will make Portland competitive. Remijo Wani, a transfer from Deering, is out for at least two more weeks because of a knee injury and has not played or practiced yet. Once he gets on the court, an adjustment period is likely, but based on his junior season at Deering (18 points, 7.3 rebounds), he could be a huge addition in time for a deep playoff run.

5. Cheverus: What the Stags lack in size, they hope to make up for with fast-paced full-court action. Silvano Ismail, a senior, is one of the state’s quickest players and a good free-throw shooter (84.7 percent last season). He averaged 13.3 points, 5.1 rebounds and 2.4 assists. Junior Gio St. Onge and sophomores Leo McNabb and Sammy Nzeyimana are also varsity veterans. Seniors Luke McNabb and Carter Hoglund will provide solid depth off the bench. Jameson Fitzpatrick, a 6-4 freshman center, is making quick progress, said second-year coach Richie Ashley. “He’s good. He’s very talented. But he is a freshman.”

6. Falmouth: Last season, Falmouth was touted as the clear favorite in Class A South, rolled to a 16-2 regular-season record and did not lose to a Class A team until the state championship game against Cooper Flagg-led Nokomis. With the graduation of high-scoring guards Brady Coyne and Jack Stowell, the Navigators’ edge over the local competition has probably narrowed, but they’re still the team to beat, led by versatile 6-4 Judd Armstrong, who raised his game in last year’s playoff run. Falmouth has good size with 6-8 junior center Chris Simonds, 6-5 sophomore Rocco DePatsy and 6-3 senior Eli Cowperthwaite, and senior guards Lukas Dilworth and Peyton Mitchell are good ball handlers with scoring ability.


7. Gorham: With a sophomore-heavy lineup, the Rams won seven games last season. Now that group, led by juniors Ashton Leclerc (17.9 points per game), Caden Smith and Gabe Michaud, along with seniors Quinn Dillon and Devin Dobson-Jacques, expects to improve into a top-four team in Class AA South. Gorham has multiple 3-point shooting threats. If the Rams get rolling in transition, they can be highly productive. Wyatt Nadeau, a 6-5 sophomore center, is a good rebounder who is working to improve his ability to finish in the post.

Gorham’s Ashton Leclerc, right, averaged 17.9 points per game last season. Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

8. Gray-New Gloucester: In their third year after moving up to Class A South, the Patriots are one of several squads (along with Westbrook, Fryeburg Academy, Brunswick, Marshwood) expected to close the gap on Falmouth. Gray is led by junior 6-1 guard Nate Hebert, who averaged 12 points last season. He is the uncle of 6-1 junior guards Aidan and Noah Hebert, who are strong two-way players. Seniors Maxwell Kenney and Michael Ryan will be counted on for contributions offensively, defensively and in the leadership department.

9. Westbrook: The Blue Blazes expect to improve on their 6-11 regular season with a veteran group. Senior 6-3 guard Kolbyn Dunphe is a top level playmaker who will look to score more himself. Aiden Taylor, a 6-5 junior, can attack from the wing. Taylor, along with seniors Micah Lombardo and Ben Eugley will need to be able to control the boards. Senior Kelson Custodio, new to the school from Houston, has the strength and quickness to be a lock-down perimeter defender with an ability to get to the rim for his own offense.

10. Oceanside: Class B South may be the most wide-open of the southern Maine-based divisions, and Oceanside has quality returners from a 14-win team. Junior guard Carter Galley averaged 19 points and was a first-team KVAC pick as a sophomore. His twin brother, Cohen (8.5 ppg), 6-4 senior center Alex Collins (7.2 ppg) and 6-2 senior forward Alex Bartlett (9.5 ppg, 4.5 rebounds) are also proven scorers. The plan is to have sophomore Zeb Foster take over the point, freeing Cohen Galley for more scoring opportunities.

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