April 26, 2018
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State-final finish motivates Camden Hills’ McFarland

By Ernie Clark, BDN Staff

The memories should have been all good for the star player of a team that won its second straight Eastern Maine Class B title last winter and extended the state championship game to overtime.

But for Camden Hills of Rockport standout Tyler McFarland, the ever-present recollection from that 72-65 loss to Falmouth was something not so good — the battle for a rebound that resulted in his fifth personal foul with 8.3 seconds left in regulation, which left him to watch the overtime from his team's bench. 

"I think about that game every day," said McFarland, a 6-foot-6 senior forward who is the only player from the 2010 Bangor Daily News All-Maine first team back this season. "Coach (Jeff Hart) and I have talked a couple of times every day since the beginning of this season, and it's something that comes up often. That's something we'll never forget because we feel like that's one that got away.

"It was bad, and it's still weighing on me."

The four-year varsity player and two-time All-Maine selection had rallied Camden Hills from a 10-point third-quarter deficit in that contest by scoring 20 of his game-high 32 points in the second half. But all he could do during overtime was cheer on his teammates as Falmouth gained control.

McFarland didn't enjoy being a spectator then, and he's determined to be on the floor next February leading the Windjammers' back to championship contention.

"That was one of the worst experiences of my life," McFarland said, "and I'm making sure as a team leader that the kids on this team don't have to experience that individually and I don't have to experience that again."

McFarland already has a considerable basketball resume since debuting at Camden Hills as part of a highly touted freshman class that also included Windjammers' teammate Keegan Pieri, a 6-6 senior forward, and Graham Safford, now a star guard as a senior at Hampden Academy.

Camden Hills went 61-5 in regular-season and tournament play during McFarland's first three years on varsity, winning the 2009 Class B state title, two Eastern Maine championships and earning a third trip to the regional finals as a freshman.

He also is the reigning Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class B Player of the Year after averaging nearly 20 points and 10 rebounds per game during his junior year.

He also is a two-time Eastern B tournament most valuable player. 

"I know I'm biased, but I think he's the best player in the state," said Hart. "He can do everything. He can play inside, outside, he can handle it, and he can guard your best player no matter what position he plays."

And while McFarland began his high school career primarily as an inside player, he has continued to develop his perimeter play with an eye toward a Division I college future.

"I definitely worked on ballhandling and shooting during the offseason and a lot in the fall and late summer on athleticism, just improving my quickness and my jumping and my speed," he said.

McFarland's role with the Windjammers has continued to grow, and now includes being a key part of his team's press-breaking offense.

"I think he's improved in all of the phases of the game," said Hart, "but especially in his ability to handle the ball and his perimeter game."

With McFarland and Pieri leading the way, Camden Hills again is one of the teams to beat in Class B this season — which by itself would provide McFarland ample incentive to elevate his game for one final season of high school basketball.

And then there's that nagging memory of watching from the bench, unable to help his teammates, as Falmouth wrested away a title that was within the Windjammers' grasp.

"Tyler's very motivated," said Hart. "The overtime against Falmouth he'll never forget, and that will be a good thing for us, I think, in the long run."

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