February 9

HIGH SCHOOL BASKETBALL PLAYOFFS: Tournament season about to begin

Preliminary round starts Tuesday

By Bill Stewart bstewart@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer

The Winslow girls basketball team blew out rival Waterville in mid-December, running away with a 61-35 victory.

The rematch a month later was much closer, but Winslow prevailed 31-22.

So, what happens next?

“Another close game,” Winslow coach Lindsey Welch said. “That’s what we expect. We’ve defeated them twice but we know they are a much-improved team. We all know what’s on the line. We’re both trying to extend our seasons.”

The basketball seedings are finalized, the postseason matchups are set and all that’s left are the tipoffs. Those will come Tuesday and Wednesday with preliminary-round games.

The No. 4 Winslow girls (14-4) will host No. 13 Waterville (10-8) in an Eastern B prelim game at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday.

The winner will move on to the quarterfinals at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor this weekend.

“People say it’s hard to beat the same team three times in one season,” Welch said. “We know that. We also know the position (Waterville) is in. We were a 13 seed last year and went on to the road (to Gardiner) and beat the four seed. We know it can happen. We have that in the back of our minds.

“We had a feeling Waterville would get in and they deserved to get in. We had an idea that we’d be playing them. It should be a great game.”

The Waterville-Winslow winner will join No. 2 seed Nokomis (18-0) in Bangor. The Warriors will host either No. 7 Medomak Valley (10-8) or No. 10 John Bapst (9-9) in an Eastern B quarterfinal game at 9:05 a.m. Saturday.

Boys prelim games begin Wednesday, and there are several intriguing matchups on tap.

No. 6 Monmouth (11-6) will host No. 11 Madison (7-11) at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday. The Mustangs sank the Bulldogs 57-35 in the regular season.

“This one could go either way,” Monmouth coach Lucas Turner said. “They have been shooting well lately. They are a guard-oriented team and we like to get the ball inside to the post.”

In Eastern B, No. 5 Winslow (15-3) will host No. 12 Foxcroft (7-11) at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday. The Black Raiders have won seven straight heading into postseason play.

“We’ve seen them play a couple of times,” Winslow coach Jared Browne said. “They know how to compete in big games, but if we execute, we’ll be fine. We’ve been playing really well lately.”

The Eastern A girls and boys tournaments begin this weekend at the Augusta Civic Center.

The No. 2 Lawrence girls (16-2) will play No. 7 Messalonskee (11-7) at 4:30 p.m. on Friday. No. 6 Skowhegan (11-7) will play No. 3 Oxford Hills (14-4) at 3 p.m.

The No. 9 Lawrence boys (8-10) will play a prelim game at No. 8 Lewiston (8-10) at 6:30 p.m., Wednesday.

“It’s going to be a tough one for us,” Lawrence coach Jason Pellerin said. “They are very tall and very long. They are playing great basketball right now.”

The Western D tournament begins Saturday with girls quarterfinal action.

Forest Hills (18-0) enters as the top seed while Rangeley (17-1) is No. 2. The Lakers will play either No. 7 Valley or No. 10 Greenville on Feb. 17 at 11:30 a.m. Forest Hills will play Feb. 18 at 11:30 a.m. against either No. 8 Vinalhaven or No. 9 North Yarmouth Academy.

Forest Hills is also the top seed on the boys side. The Tigers (16-2) will face either No. 8 Richmond or No. 9 Islesboro on Saturday at 1 p.m.

Bill Stewart — 621-5640bstewart@centralmaine.comTwitter: @billstewartkj
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