SACO, Maine — State championship team members Garet Beal of Jonesport-Beals High School, Krystal Kingsbury of Presque Isle, Allie Clement of McAuley of Portland and McKenzie Worcester of Washburn are among the more than 175 basketball players who have confirmed they plan to participate in the third annual MBNation East vs. West Showcase on Sunday.
The daylong event at the Saco Recreation Center is conducted by MBNation Basketball and showcases the talents of the state’s top players.
“This has, literally, become a preseason all-star game,” said MBNation club director Mike Woodbury of the contests.
More than 200 players were invited to participate and the final tally of who attends will be close to 180, according to Woodbury.
“It gets bigger every year,” he said.
He also expects to have between 30 and 50 men’s and women’s coaches, plus a couple of organizations that evaluate the players’ potential and rank them for recruiting purposes.
Some may have already committed to a school. Beal, for instance, verbally committed to the University of Maine on Tuesday. Most have not committed yet, such as Chris Braley, a Newport native now attending Phillips Exeter Academy in Exeter, N.H., who is also considered to be an NCAA Division I basketball prospect.
The day consists of seven games scheduled to be put on starting at 9 a.m., five boys games and two girls games, primarily for high school-age players.
The boys are split into four games based on high school graduation class (2013-16) plus a futures game for boys who are expected to graduate in either 2017 or 2018. Girls games may be split among two age groups, one game for the 2013 and 2014 graduating classes and the other for the 2015 and 2016 classes.
There is no breakdown into classes based on the size of the schools the players attend.
“We just tried to find the best players regardless of class,” Woodbury said. Players are coming from as far north as Caribou and as far south as York.
Some who have accepted their invitations may not be able to play, however, because of injury or other commitments.
“We don’t allow them to participate if they’re still in season for their high school sport [such as football],” said Woodbury.
The admission fee is $5 per person, but that covers all the games. The players’ registration fee is $55.
Woodbury is excited because this year’s gathering is in the newly renovated Saco Recreation Center after two years at Southern Maine Community College in South Portland.
“They’ve put in a new gymnasium floor and it has more seating. And they’re bringing in extra seating,” Woodbury said of the Saco center, which will have a capacity of about 600. The center also has a concessions stand with hot food, an activity room for the players and a hospitality room for the college coaches.
The extra seating probably will be necessary, according to Woodbury.
“I expect that it will be standing-room-only for the games in the middle of the day,” he said. Those are boys games with this year’s juniors playing at 12:45 p.m. and the seniors at 2 p.m.
The futures game is first at 9 a.m. followed by the freshman boys (10:15 a.m.) and sophomore boys (11:30 a.m.).
The freshman and sophomore girls play at 3:15 p.m. followed by the junior and senior girls at 4:30 p.m. The girls games may be combined into one, however, based on the confirmation rate, Woodbury said. Fourteen girls from Western Maine and 17 from Eastern Maine have confirmed, and Woodbury prefers to have 12-player teams.
Other boys taking part include Sam Grindle of Deer Isle-Stonington, a standout guard who also won the state Class C boys individual golf title last month; Tyler Norris of EM Class A champion Hampden Academy; Thiwat Thiwat and Labson Abwoch of state Class A champ Deering of Portland; Brendan Newcomb of Brewer; Ben Walls of Mount Desert Island of Bar Harbor; Nick Guiod and Kyle Bouchard of Houlton; Ben Hughes of Bangor; Mitch Worcester of Washburn; and Isaiah Stone-Patterson of Oceanside of Rockland/Thomaston.
Among the other girls who have accepted invitations are Sydney and Sarah Hancock of Lake Region of Naples, Kelsie and Kylie Richards of Nokomis of Newport, Kennadi Grover of Oceanside, Jillian Woodward of Orono and Lexi Nelligan of Belfast.
The list of committed players can be found at the MBNation website at: thenationbasketball.yuku.com/topic/2468/3rd-Annual-MBNation-East-v-West-Showcase-Info—Invite-List.
Woodbury is expecting that the games will be competitive.
“This is a chance for people who might not have the opportunity to [play against] each other during the rest of the year,” hesaid. “Hopefully, they’ll all have a good time.”