Thomas Knight began his senior season with a basketball scholarship from Notre Dame already in hand.
He ended the season with virtually all the individual accolades available to a high school player from Maine.
The 6-foot-9 center from Dirigo of Dixfield was named both the state’s Mr. Basketball and the Maine Gatorade Player of the Year.
Knight also is the leading vote-getter on the 54th annual Bangor Daily News All-Maine Basketball Team — all thanks to a traditional low-post game combined with the ability to stretch defenses with shooting range extending to 3-point land.
“People that don’t have the opportunity to see Tom play on an everyday basis really have no idea what skill level he truly has,” said Dirigo coach Gavin Kane.
Knight is joined on the All-Maine first team by junior guard Keegan Hyland of South Portland, senior forward Mick DiStasio of Cheverus of Portland, senior point guard James Morse of Thornton Academy of Saco and senior forward Gordon Fischer of Camden Hills of Rockport.
The second team consists of senior forward Corey Therriault from Edward Little of Auburn, junior guard Indiana Faithfull of Cheverus, senior guard Ben Russell of Mt. Blue of Farmington, junior center Dominic Borelli of Westbrook and sophomore center Tyler McFarland of Camden Hills.
On the third team are senior centers Ed Bogdanovich of Portland and Cal Shorey of Calais, senior forward Alex Bowe of Cape Elizabeth, senior guard Russ Mortland of Presque Isle and senior center Cody Gilboe from Forest Hills of Jackman.
The All-Maine team honors the state’s top 15 players regardless of class, position or region, as selected by the BDN sports staff with input from coaches, officials and other basketball observers.
KNIGHT led Dirigo to the 2009 Western C title and a career 74-10 record.
A three-time All-Mountain Valley Conference choice, he was the 2009 conference player of the year and also was named the outstanding player of the Western C tourney.
Knight then had 20 points, 14 rebounds and four blocks in the state final, where the Cougars were edged by Calais 40-39.
“In simple terms, Tom gave us the opportunity to play for a state championship,” said Kane.
HYLAND led the Southern Maine Activities Association in scoring for the second straight year, amassing 499 points during the regular season and averaging seven points per game more than his nearest rival.
“Keegan is a complete player,” said South Portland coach Phil Conley. “He plays both ends of the floor very well. He had many big scoring nights for us this year, and he was double-teamed most nights.”
A second-team All-Maine choice last year, Hyland also ranked among the conference leaders in steals and assists per game while helping lead the Red Riots to a 14-5 record.
Hyland, who already is drawing interest from Division I college programs, was named the SMAA’s co-player of the year.
DiSTASIO is the lone repeat first-team choice from 2008 after leading Cheverus to an undefeated regular season. The long-range shooting specialist ranked second among SMAA scorers during the season while leading the conference with 4.2 steals per game and 60 3-point goals — the latter two statistics both school records.
“His shot attempts went down and his points went up because of improved shot selection,” said Cheverus coach Bob Brown of DiStasio, a Mr. Basketball finalist. “The maturity level of his game became much better this season.”
DiStasio was the SMAA’s co-player of the year, as well as the recipient of the conference’s Randall Award as its outstanding player-sportsman.
DiStasio will play basketball next season at Trinity College in Hartford, Conn.
MORSE sparked Thornton Academy to its first Class A state championship, leading his team in scoring for the second straight year while also ranking among the SMAA leaders in assists (5.6) and steals (3.6).
The first-team all-conference choice and Mr. Basketball semifinalist averaged 17.3 points per game during the Western Maine tournament, capping that effort off by making 9 of 10 free throws in the fourth quarter of Thornton’s 49-43 win over Portland in the regional final.
He then scored 12 of his 14 points in the second half, and grabbed eight rebounds as Thornton edged Edward Little 54-52 in the state-title game.
“James was a great leader and controlled the tempo of games,” said Thornton Academy coach Bob Davies. “He made his teammates better every game.”
FISCHER capped off his career by leading Camden Hills to an undefeated season and the Class B state title. The four-year starter finished with 1,073 career points while leading his team to two Eastern Maine titles and this year’s state crown.
Perhaps most impressive about the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference’s Class B player of the year was his willingness to adapt his game for the benefit of the team. As a freshman and sophomore he did most of his work near the basket, but as his game evolved and other talented players joined the program, he adjusted to more of a perimeter style that was particularly evident this season.
“Gordon is all about team,” said Camden Hills coach Jeff Hart. “He doesn’t care about individual statistics, he’ll just do whatever it takes to win.”
Fischer was named to this year’s Eastern B all-tourney team after averaging 13 points and seven rebounds in three regional postseason victories.
And the Mr. Basketball finalist saved his best for last, scoring 16 of his game-high 22 points in the second half of the 2009 state final as Camden Hills defeated Cape Elizabeth to finish with a 22-0 record.
Fischer will continue his athletic career at Colby College in Waterville.
THERRIAULT changed his game slightly as a senior to lead Edward Little to a 19-3 record and its first regional title since 1957.
While he worked primarily inside as a junior, the Mr. Basketball semifinalist played more on the perimeter this year while leading the Red Eddies to the No. 1 seed in Eastern A.
“Of all of the players we’ve had over the years, Corey’s basketball IQ may have been higher than any other player to come through EL over the past 10-plus years,” said Edward Little coach Mike Adams, “due in large part to the amount of basketball he has played at different levels.”
Therriault was named the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class A South player of the year this season, then was selected to the Eastern A all-tournament team.
Therriault will play basketball next winter at Wentworth Institute of Technology.
FAITHFULL made a successful transition from shooting guard to point guard this winter, leading the SMAA with 6.1 assists per game and ranking third with 3.4 steals per contest. He also was his team’s second-leading rebounder.
“With his height he has the ability to see open people and get them the ball,” said Brown. “He probably is one of the best passers of the ball up the floor that I’ve had.”
The 6-foot-3 Australian native earned first-team All-SMAA recognition.
“Defensively, he does a good job of using his length,” Brown said. “He keeps people in front of him using his reach and athletic ability.
“Offensively, he became more of a penetrator looking to score rather than dishing off all the time.”
RUSSELL helped Mt. Blue reach the Eastern A semifinals for the third straight year, earning KVAC Class A North player of the year honors as well as a berth on the conference’s All-Defensive team.
The sharp-shooting guard ranked among the conference leaders in scoring, steals (3.2 per game) and 3-point goals per game (1.8), and he also was among the region’s most reliable free-throw shooters.
“When your best player is also your hardest worker and sets that kind of example for everybody else on the team, that puts you in good position,” said Mt. Blue coach Jim Bessey.
Russell, a Mr. Basketball semifinalist, will play next year at Maine Maritime Academy in Castine.
BORELLI missed the first three games of the season due to injury, but came on strong to finish second among SMAA rebounders while also ranking among the conference leaders in scoring and free throw shooting (75 percent).
Borelli’s strength near the basket and accurate perimeter game helped Westbrook earn a 16-2 regular-season record and the No. 2 seed in Western A.
Borelli then scored 22 points in each of the Blue Blazes’ postseason games as Westbrook reached the regional semifinals.
“He can play,” said Brown. “He can step outside similar to Knight, he can shoot outside and he can score inside, and he’s ambidextrous.
“He also was bigger and stronger this year.”
McFARLAND emerged as one of the state’s dominant inside players during his sophomore season.
He shared team-scoring leadership with Fischer and also ranked among the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference leaders in rebounding.
McFarland subsequently was named a KVAC Class B first-team all-star, then was the Eastern B tournament’s most valuable player after averaging double figures in both scoring and rebounding and also blocking six shots in the Windjammers’ 62-37 win over Rockland in the final.
He followed that up with a strong performance in the state final, totaling 15 points, 14 rebounds and four blocked shots during Camden Hills’ victory over Cape Elizabeth.
“We brought him along slowly last year, but by the end of the year he was playing with a lot of confidence,” said Hart. “This year he just took off.”
BOGDANOVICH was one of the top inside forces in Western A, leading the SMAA in rebounding while ranking sixth in scoring as he helped coach Joe Russo’s Portland club finish 14-7 and reach the regional final. Bogdanovich was a first-team All-SMAA choice as well as a Mr. Basketball semifinalist. He plans to play both basketball and baseball at Bates College in Lewiston.
SHOREY capped off a storied career at Calais by hitting the game-winning 3-pointer with 17 seconds left in the Class C state final against Dirigo. That gave him three state titles, four Eastern Maine crowns and an 80-5 record during four varsity seasons under Blue Devils’ coach Ed Leeman. The Downeast Athletic Conference all-star went on to be named most valuable player of this year’s Eastern C tournament, as well as a Mr. Basketball semifinalist. He will play next season at Union College (N.Y.).
BOWE, a versatile forward, led Cape Elizabeth to a 17-5 record and its second consecutive Western B title. The first-team All-Western Maine Conference choice averaged 20 points per game during the regional tournament, including 24 points in the WM final en route to earning tournament outstanding player-sportsman honors for coach Jim Ray’s Capers.
MORTLAND’s versatility helped Presque Isle finish with a 17-3 record and a berth in the Eastern Maine Class B semifinals. At 6-3, he played both forward and shooting guard for coach Tim Prescott’s club and was named Big East Conference player of the year as well as an Aroostook League all-star. Also selected to the East-ern B all-tournament team, Mortland plans to play soccer and basketball at the University of Maine-Fort Kent.
GILBOE put up some astonishing numbers while leading coach Anthony Amero’s Forest Hills squad to a 19-2 record and its first appearance in the Western D final since 1992. He set a school single-season record with 537 points to lead a team with two eighth-graders on its eight-player roster deep into postseason play. Gilboe was named the Western D tournament’s outstanding player-sportsman and will continue his career at Central Maine Community College in Auburn.