Upper Kennebec Valley Memorial High School of Bingham has been a longtime nemesis for the boys basketball program at Greenville High School.
Then again, the Cavaliers have suffered few losses to any opponent during the last decade — a run that included six consecutive Class D state championships from 1998 through 2003.
When Greenville knocked off visiting Valley 70-54 on Thursday evening, it was believed to be the Lakers’ first win over the Cavaliers in 20 years.
“The guys were all pretty excited about it,” said third-year Greenville coach Paul Breton. “But they’re realistic about it, too. We didn’t beat the Harlem Globetrotters.”
Valley is under new leadership this winter, as Wade Morrill has taken over the coaching reins in the aftermath of Dwight Littlefield’s retirement during the most recent off-season. Littlefield coached the Cavaliers for 31 years, compiling a 471-125 record — including a streak of 101 consecutive wins — with six state titles and 10 Western D crowns.
Yet Valley still figures to be a contender in Western Maine Class D this winter, so the early season victory by Greenville is likely to have positive Heal point ramifications for the Lakers.
“I’m sure they’ll be OK,” said Breton. “It will help.”
Greenville trailed Valley 33-31 at halftime, but outscored the Cavaliers 24-9 in the third quarter to take a 55-42 lead into the final period.
“We were in some foul trouble, and they had some foul trouble,” said Breton. “But we just had a group of kids out there who clicked.”
This marked the first meeting between the teams since the 2008 Western D quarterfinals last February, when Valley defeated the Lakers 64-45 en route to a berth in the regional championship game, where Richmond edged the Cavaliers 61-57.
Greenville was scheduled to play at Richmond on Friday night, but that game was postponed due to inclement weather.
Breton considers this season’s Greenville roster fairly balanced, with his core rotation including seniors R.J. Caola, Joe Gilbert, Richie Munster and John Muzzy, junior Emerson Sikes and sophomores Tony DiAngelo — who scored 23 points against Valley — and Alex Jardine.
All but one of the 13 players on the roster are coming off a successful soccer season, when Greenville advanced to the Western D championship game.
“They’re doing pretty well,” said Breton. “For whatever reason, they’re really playing well as a team.”
The Lakers are in their third season of competing in Western D after previously being in Eastern D while still a member of the Western Maine-based East-West Conference, which includes such opponents as Valley, Forest Hills of Jackman, Buckfield, Richmond, Rangeley, Averill of Hinckley and Vinalhaven.
Greenville advanced to the preliminary round before falling to Forest Hills in 2007, then reached the Western D quarterfinals at the Augusta Civic Center last February before falling to Valley.
Greenville does have additional games scheduled this season against two Eastern Maine foes, Calvary Chapel of Orrington and Highview Christian of Charleston, to round out its schedule.
Breton expects Vinalhaven and Buckfield to be competitive teams within the East-West Conference, along with Richmond and Rangeley, which took Richmond to overtime earlier this week after losing to Greenville 67-24 in a one-sided season opener last weekend.
“You just never know, but the boys’ goal is to make the tournament,” said Breton. “Anything other than that would be a bonus.”