Bentley University has fielded one of the top Division II men’s basketball programs in America during recent years, reaching the NCAA semifinals in 2008 and 2010 and advancing to the Elite Eight in 2007.
And Maine has been well represented on the Falcons’ roster, most recently with Jacob Moore of Hampden Academy and Sam Leclerc of Winthrop as members of last year’s squad that finished 24-8 and reached the Division II East Regional championship game.
That Pine Tree State connection will continue to grow over the next two years, with Andrew Shaw of Saco’s Thornton Academy set to join coach Jay Lawson’s team this fall and the recent verbal commitment of Maine’s 2011 Mr. Basketball, Tyler McFarland of Camden Hills of Rockport, to accept a basketball scholarship from the Waltham, Mass., school beginning in September 2012.
“Division I was a goal and dream of mine, but as I continued to think about things during the [past month or so I realized what a great opportunity I had at Bentley,” said McFarland. “The coach is a big part of the reason kids decide to go where they go, and coach Lawson (416-184 in 20 years) is a big reason I want to play for Bentley.”
In addition to being named Mr. Basketball after his senior season at Camden Hills, the 6-foot-6 forward was selected the state’s Gatorade player of the year, Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class B player of the year for the second straight season and most valuable player of the Eastern B tournament for the third consecutive season.
The three-time Bangor Daily News All-Maine choice averaged 24.1 points, 11.4 rebounds, 2.8 steals, 2.0 assists and 1.8 blocks per game last winter while shooting 55 percent from the field and 77 percent from the free-throw line to help coach Jeff Hart’s club finish undefeated for the second time in three years.
During McFarland’s four years at Camden Hills, the Windjammers compiled an 83-5 record.
McFarland, who was offered a scholarship by Bentley before his senior season at Camden Hills, will stick to his original plan and spend a postgraduate year at Cushing Academy in Ashburnham, Mass., before enrolling in college, though the motivation for that move has changed.
“I had a full scholarship offer from Bentley last year, but I still had Division I on my mind and originally I thought a year of prep school would help me decide where I wanted to go,” said McFarland. “I looked at a lot of different colleges, but I didn’t see anything more I could have had at any other school that I couldn’t get at Bentley. It’s a great school.
“Next year I will be able to focus on parts of my game that I want to continue to improve on, and things that Bentley wants from me,” McFarland added. “I’ll also be working on gaining strength and adding a few more pounds, and I’ll take some AP (advanced placement) courses to give me a head start when I get to Bentley.”
McFarland said he received numerous feelers from Division I college programs up until he committed to Bentley last week, but none matched the scholarship offer he received from the Falcons.
“I’m not disappointed at all, really,” said McFarland. “I can’t tell you how glad and how proud I am that I’m going to be a Bentley Falcon. Bentley’s as good an option athletically and academically that I could want.”
McFarland will be one of three seniors off last year’s Camden Hills basketball team who will continue their playing careers in college, along with All-Maine forward Keegan Pieri (Bowdoin) and point guard Joel Gabriele (Eastern Nazarene).
“Bentley’s got a young team, but by the time I get there I’ll be a little more mature and a little more developed,” McFarland said. “I’ll have a good challenge to earn playing time when I get there.”
Bapst’s Desmond honored
Recently graduated John Bapst of Bangor football standout Chris Desmond is one of three winners of the John R. Schmidlin Trophy, which recognizes play on the field, citizenship, team play, loyalty and reliability.
Desmond was recognized during halftime of the Maine Shrine Lobster Bowl Classic played Saturday at Biddeford’s Waterhouse Field.
Desmond, an offensive and defensive lineman, helped John Bapst reach the Eastern Maine Class C final in each of his four years with the Crusaders, a run highlighted by the team’s state championship season in 2008.
As a senior, the 6-3, 275-pound Desmond was named first-team All-LTC on both offense and defense as well as LTC All-Academic, and he was a runner-up for the for the Gaziano Award as the state’s top lineman.
Desmond was one of five finalists for the Schmidlin Trophy from Class C schools, along with Nick Proscia of Yarmouth, Cody Provost of Oak Hill of Sabattus, Spencer Ross of Dirigo of Dixfield and Charlie Tapley of Stearns of Millinocket.
Quarterback Luke Duncklee of Cony of Augusta was the Schmidlin Trophy winner from Class A, with QB Cam Kaubris of Mountain Valley of Rumford the Class B recipient.
Duncklee was the Pine Tree Conference Class A player of the year last fall, while Kaubris was a Fitzpatrick Trophy finalist who led Mountain Valley to the state championship.
Other Class A finalists were Michael Cyr of Scarborough, Zach Dulac and Peter Gwilym of Cheverus of Portland, Nick Gagne of Biddeford, Shawn Goodrich of Sanford, Nate Martel of Bonny Eagle of Standish and Lucas Quimby of Lawrence of Fairfield.
Other Class B finalists were Adam Heroux of Belfast, Jacob Powers of Camden Hills of Rockport, Max Cloutier of Leavitt of Turner and John McCabe of Winslow.
Schmidlin was a longtime football coach and athletic administrator at Gardiner Area High School, and also served as executive secretary of the Maine High School Coaches Association. He later served as athletic director at the University of Maine-Machias from 1967-1976.
Head football coaches from each class statewide nominate candidates for the award, and then each coach votes for the recipient from his class.
Preble named coach of year
Chris Preble, who guided the Stearns of Millinocket football team to the Eastern Maine Class C championship game last fall, was recognized as the 2010 Class C football coach of the year during halftime of the Maine Shrine Lobster Bowl Classic.
Preble, an assistant coach for the East team in the Lobster Bowl, was recognized by the Maine High School Coaches Association for guiding the Minutemen to an undefeated regular season and the LTC championship.
Others named coach of the year were John Wolfgram of Cheverus of Portland in Class A and Jim Aylward of Mountain Valley in Class B. Wolfgram and Aylward each guided his team to a state championship last fall.