Portland’s Jeissey Khamis dislodges the ball from Lewiston’s Jibril Holloman during a Class AA North semifinal last season. The 6-foot-6 Khamis is regarded as one of top big men in the state. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal

1. Portland: Portland lost three starters to graduation, but the Bulldogs return one of the state’s best big men in 6-foot-6 Jeissey Khamis. Former reserves Kevin Rugabirwa and Pepito Girumugisha are battle-tested senior guards who can apply defensive pressure. Juniors Drew Veilleux and Devin Walker, along with senior James Johnson, add depth in the frontcourt. Cordell Jones, a 6-3 sophomore who impressed in limited varsity minutes while playing at Gorham last year, can be a rebounding force.

2. Cheverus: The Stags will be without the graduated Silvano Ismail, who led Class AA in scoring, but they have several veterans back from a 14-6 team that lost in the regional semifinals, especially at guard. Senior captain Gio St. Onge and junior Leo McNabb both averaged over nine points per game. Junior captain Sammy Nzeyimana, a starter since his freshman season, will run the point. Look for 6-5 sophomore Jameson Fitzpatrick to be a factor. Senior Maddik Weisberg and Rocco DePatsy, a 6-6 junior transfer from Falmouth, also make the Stags improved inside.

3. South Portland: The Red Riots are the two-time defending Class AA champions, and their freshman team was unbeaten a year ago, so they know how to win. But two transfers left Coach Kevin Millington’s team, so it could take a bit longer for this squad to gel. Senior Gabe Galarraga, the only returning starter, is a 6-6 all-around player who is ready to be a primary scoring option after averaging 11.1 points and 6.6 rebounds. Junior guards Tom Maloji and Manuel Hidalgo are varsity returners who will move into the starting lineup, while senior guard Chris Keene and 6-3 junior wing Carmine Soucy can be perimeter scoring threats.

4. Gorham: Based on returning talent, Gorham could be considered the top team in what figures to be a highly competitive AA South. The Rams return three-year starter Ashton Leclerc, who averaged over 15 points, three rebounds and three assists, along with fellow seniors Gabe Michaud (8.9 points, 5.1 rebounds, 4.1 assists) and Caden Smith and 6-5 junior Griffin Gammon. Those players are looking for their first playoff win. Last season, they were 13-5 and seeded third but lost in overtime to a 6-12 Scarborough team. Coach Ryan Deschenes was previously at Gray-New Gloucester.

5. Oceanside: The Mariners are probably the surest bet to be in a regional final among the 42 southern Maine teams. They went 20-2 a year ago, losing to Orono in the Class B title game after beating defending champion Yarmouth in overtime in the South final. Oceanside returns its top three players in Varsity Maine All-Stater Carter Galley (22.1 points, 60 3-pointers on 45% shooting behind the arc), his twin brother, Cohen (16.7 points, 50% shooter), and junior point guard Zeb Foster (9.1 points, 3.1 assists). It will be up to young talent like 6-6 freshman Trevin Ripley to help with interior defense and rebounding.

Noah Hebert, left, Nate Hebert, center, and Aidan Hebert play together on the Gray-New Gloucester boys’ basketball. All three are seniors – Noah and Aidan are twins, and Nate is their uncle. Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographer

6. Gray-New Gloucester: Former Patriots assistant Ian McCarthy takes over as the head coach of a team with eight returners from a 16-4 squad that reached the Class A South semifinals. Nate Hebert led the Western Maine Conference in scoring at 20.6 per game. His twin nephews, Noah and Aidan Hebert, are also seniors and lead the defense. Noah Hebert averaged 13.3 points last season. The team also picked up a key transfer in John Patenaude, who averaged 19.7 points as a sophomore at Poland.


7. Falmouth: Coming off two straight Class A South championships, Falmouth (17-5 last season) will have many new faces. Chris Simonds, a 6-8 senior center, is the most experienced player on a team with good overall size. Simonds (13 points, eight rebounds per game) averaged 20 points and 11 rebounds over his final five games until breaking his ankle a week before the postseason. Seniors Henry Stowell, a 6-3 guard, 6-4 forward Charlie Wolak and 6-5 center Raymond Li combine with Simonds to give the Navigators a size edge over their Class A peers. Coach Dave Halligan believes guards Alex Findlay, Billy Birks and Davis Mann are ready to take over.

8. Noble: The Knights are looking for their first winning season since 2012-13 and just the second in program history since 1987-88. They were 7-11 and competitive in their losses in AA South last year. Now they are in Class A, and junior guards Jamier Rose (18.5 points per game) and Bryce Guitard (18.0) are three-year starters. Senior Isaiah Conaray (7.3 points 5.1 rebounds, 2.5 assists) is a sturdy 6-footer who can defend bigs and distribute like a guard. Getting 6-8 junior center Andrew Marzoli onto the court adds a size element and shot blocker the team lacked last year.

9. Scarborough: There are reasons the Red Storm could make a big step forward after going 7-13 a year ago. Liam Garriepy, a 6-5 senior forward and two-year captain, is healthy after missing the first dozen games a year ago. Scarborough has eight seniors, including Liam Jefferds (6.4 points, 2.4 assists) and Blake Harris (10.8 points, 3.7 rebounds). Sophomores Carter Blanche (8.8 points) and 6-9 Spencer Booth now have a year of varsity experience.

10. Lincoln Academy: The Eagles fell just a few points shy of reaching the Class B South final last season (a 54-50 loss to Yarmouth) and return 12 players from a 14-6 team. They will use their depth and defensive intensity to create a fast-paced style that lends itself to outside shooting. Seniors Gabe Hagar, Tucker Stiles and Lucas Houghton are the top threats. Hagar, who can score from deep or at the rim, is a 6-1 guard who averaged 21 points as a junior. Perennial contenders Yarmouth and Medomak Valley should be among the Class B South teams trying to take down Oceanside.

Related Headlines

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. 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.