Some had key moments in leading their teams through the 2009 Eastern Maine boys basketball tournament, while others’ stellar play was marked by consistency.
But for James Philbrook of Edward Little of Auburn, Tyler McFarland of Camden Hills of Rockport, Cal Shorey of Calais and Chad James of Woodland, individual success has led not only to team championships, but to their selection as this year’s recipients of the William C. Warner Most Valuable Player Award.
The Warner Award, established in 1994 in memory of a former Bangor Daily News sports editor and reporter, and all-tourney teams were selected by a vote of media, tournament personnel and representatives of the Maine Principals’ Association.
In Class A, Philbrook was the most consistent member of a deep and talented frontcourt that led Edward Little to its first Eastern Maine championship since 1957.
The 6-foot-4 junior averaged 15 points and 9.3 rebounds in three tournament games. He came up biggest in the regional final against Lawrence of Fairfield when he had 18 points, 10 rebounds and four blocked shots, as well as two straight baskets in the fourth quarter that gave the Red Eddies control of the game for good.
Philbrook is joined on the Bangor Daily News EM “A” all-tournament team by EL teammate Corey Therriault, Brooks Spaulding and Matt Perkins of Lawrence and Jamie Sawyer of Mt. Blue of Farmington.
Therriault and Sawyer are all-tourney choices for the second straight year. Therriault, a forward, averaged 14 points per game, scoring 20 in the Red Eddies’ 44-39 semifinal win over two-time defending champion Bangor.
Sawyer, a point guard, scored 19 points in Mt. Blue’s quarterfinal win over Morse of Bath, and his ball-handling helped the Cougars commit just three turnovers in the game. He followed that with a team-high 14 points in a semifinal loss to Lawrence.
Spaulding and Perkins helped Lawrence rise from the No. 10 seed to a berth in the regional final. Spaulding, a center, scored in double figures in each game, including 18 points in a quarterfinal upset of No. 2 Brewer and 13 in the final against Edward Little.
Perkins had his strongest game in the semifinal against Mt. Blue, helping Lawrence avenge two regular-season losses with six points, five rebounds and five assists.
In Class B, McFarland joined all-tourney teammates Gordon Fischer and Graham Safford in leading Camden Hills to a dominant three-game run through the regional tournament. The Windjammers won their second EM title in three years and the seventh in the last 12 years.
McFarland controlled the lane for coach Jeff Hart’s club, averaging double figures in both scoring and rebounding for the tournament and also blocking six shots in his team’s 62-37 win over Rockland in the regional final.
Fischer found several ways to best his opponents, averaging 13 points and seven rebounds per game while also effectively setting up his teammates and blocking shots.
Safford was the Windjammers’ floor general, negating any opponent’s notion of pressing the Windjammers on a regular basis. His tournament week was highlighted by a 13-point, four-steal semifinal effort against Hermon.
Also on the Class B all-tourney team are guard Teel Ilvonen of Rockland and forward Russ Mortland of Presque Isle.
Ilvonen was the tournament’s leading scorer, highlighted by a 25-point outburst in the quarterfinals against Medomak Valley of Waldoboro in which he hit seven 3-pointers. Ilvonen finished his three-game stint with 10 3-pointers, tying the Eastern B tourney record set in 2008 by Devin Gerrity of Maranacook of Readfield.
Mortland got Presque Isle off to a strong start in postseason with 22 points in the quarterfinals against Mount Desert Island, and finished tourney play as the Wildcats’ leading scorer.
In Class C, Shorey’s strong play marked the fourth straight year a Calais player has earned the Warner Award, following Brandon Tomah (2006 and 2007) and Rod Tirrell (2008).
The 6-foot-4 center averaged double figures in scoring and rebounding and had 27 points and 12 rebounds as the Blue Devils defeated Stearns of Millinocket 71-45 in the championship game. Shorey also averaged 3.7 blocked shots per game while patrolling the paint for coach Ed Leeman’s club.
While Shorey dominated the lane, Calais teammates Jordan Leeman and Jeremy Carr starred both in the half-court and in transition while earning all-tourney honors.
Carr was the chief finisher on what proved to be a devastating fast break for Calais, scoring 18 points in each of his team’s three tournament games while shooting an astronomical 77.4 percent (24 of 31) from the field.
Leeman ran the offense whether playing point guard or posting up defenders. He scored in double figures in each game, including 14 points against Lee Academy in the semifinals and 13 points, 11 assists and seven rebounds in the title game.
Joining the Calais trio on the Class C team are guards Garen Manzo of Stearns and Noah Von Rotz of Washington Academy of East Machias.
Manzo led the Minutemen to their first tourney appearance in five years and shared the top three-game scoring honors with Carr, including a 27-point quarterfinal outing against Orono.
Von Rotz led the top-seeded Raiders to the semifinals, including a 26-point quarterfinal effort against Narraguagus of Harrington.
In Class D, James and Woodland backcourt mate Ben Sears led Woodland to its first regional title.
James came up biggest as the Dragons dethroned 2008 state champion Central Aroostook of Mars Hill in the championship game with 14 points, five rebounds, three assists and six key free throws in the fourth quarter as Woodland avenged an overtime loss to the Panthers in last year’s final. He also joined Sears as a 1,000-point scorer in the quarterfinals.
Like James, Sears also scored in double figures in each of the Dragons’ postseason victories, including 17 points in the quarterfinals and 16 in the semifinals.
Joining Woodland’s dynamic duo on the Class D all-tourney team are Central Aroostook’s Manny Martinez and Caleb Kelly and Brett Bradford of Bangor Christian.
Martinez used his quickness to great success on the perimeter, freeing himself up for both the 3-point shot and slashing drives to the basket. He scored 21 points in the quarterfinals and 20 in the semifinals for the Panthers.
Kelly used his quickness to great success on the interior, particularly on the offensive boards as he anticipated missed shots and frequently gathered them in for scoring chances of his own. Kelly’s tourney was highlighted by a 21-point, 10-rebound semifinal performance.
Bradford led Bangor Christian from the ninth seed to a berth in the semifinals. He scored 30 points and grabbed seven rebounds in a quarterfinal upset of top-ranked and undefeated Fort Fairfield. with his two free throws with 2.4 seconds remaining providing the margin of victory.