A basketball program is in good standing when one of the bigger battles it faces during the season is guarding against complacency.
The Camden Hills of Rockport boys squad dealt with just such a challenge during its 2010 schedule — as evidenced by a two-point loss at Mount View of Thorndike that ended the program’s 35-game winning streak, and a season-ending one-point loss to archrival Rockland.
“Every year toward the end of the season we seem to go through a period when we feel like we’ve already accomplished quite a bit and we tend to get a little lazy,” said Camden Hills center Tyler McFarland. “That’s when a team can catch you off-guard.”
But coach Jeff Hart’s club rebounded in impressive fashion at the Bangor Auditorium last week, its three straight regional tournament victories capped off by an 82-49 rout of Ellsworth to earn Camden Hills its fourth Eastern Maine Class B crown in the last six years.
“In the quarterfinals we had a pretty good game,” said McFarland, the tournament MVP. “We came out ready to attack in that game, but I don’t think we really started to play well again until the Medomak Valley [semifinal] and then the Ellsworth game.”
Now the Windjammers (19-2) hope to build on that second wind one final time, on Friday night against Falmouth in the Class B state final.
These teams met twice late last year in fall league games. Camden Hills earned two narrow victories over the Yachtsmen, but learned a lot more.
“The kids gained a lot of respect for them,” said Hart. “They know Falmouth is a good team, and very athletic.”
Camden Hills fields a markedly different squad than the 2009 team that went 22-0 and won the school’s fifth state title in the last 11 years.
Only McFarland, a second-team BDN All-Maine choice last year, returned to the starting lineup this season. The 6-foot-6 junior center was the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class B player of the year after averaging 18.8 points and 8.6 rebounds per game.
He’s joined by 6-6 junior forward Keegan Pieri, a first-team All-KVAC choice who averaged 14.2 points during the season and then was named to the all-tournament team. Add 6-6 senior Casey Scott, 6-4 senior Casey Wilson and 6-3 senior Cameron Gartley to the mix, and Camden Hills has one of the more formidable front lines in the state regardless of class.
Senior guard Jimmy Weferling spearheads the Windjammers’ fullcourt defensive pressure, while classmate Will Vlautin transferred to Camden Hills from California to add guard depth and junior Joel Gabriele provides 3-point shooting range.
Falmouth (20-1) is seeking its first state title since winning three straight Class C crowns during the late 1990s.
Coach Dave Halligan’s club features senior guard Stefano Mancini, MVP of the Western B tournament after averaging 25.3 points in three victories with 12 3-point goals.
“Mancini is pretty special,” said Hart. “He’s one of those guys who can break down defenses and get to the basket, but he also can make the mid-range jumper or the 3-point shot.”
John Roberts, a 6-7 senior, plays center, while senior forward Jahrel Registe and senior guards Sam Horning and Ryan Rogers also play key roles.