Mount Desert Island senior forward Hannah Shaw, Washburn High School junior guard Mackenzie Worcester, Calais High School junior guard Maddy McVicar and Oxford Hills High School of South Paris senior forward Mikayla Morin are game-changers.
Not only are they exceptional players, they always seem to come up with a basket, rebound, steal or pass when their team needs it the most.
They come through in the clutch and they give their teammates confidence.
All four of them have led their respective teams to Eastern Maine championships and a berth in this weekend’s state championships.
Shaw’s 19-2 MDI Trojans will take on 20-1 Lake Region of Naples in Friday’s Class B final at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor at 7:05 p.m. On Saturday, Worcester and her Washburn teammates, 19-2, will face 21-0 Forest Hills of Jackman at the Augusta Civic Center at 1:05 p.m.; Morin and her 17-4 Vikings will take on McAuley of Portland (20-1) at Portland’s Cumberland County Civic Center at 4 p.m. and McVicar and her 19-2 Blue Devils will meet 17-4 Carrabec of North Anson (17-4) in Augusta at 7:05 p.m.
McAuley and Washburn are defending three-time state champions.
In Class A, Oxford Hills will be looking for its first-ever state basketball title.
In Class B, MDI won its last state championship in 2003, while the Lakers haven’t won since 1975, although they will be playing in their sixth final in nine years.
Calais lost in last year’s Class C final and last won a state crown in 2010. Carrabec is making its first-ever state game appearance.
In Class D, Forest Hills last won a title in 1997.
Hannah Shaw, according to coach Brent Barker, “plays the game with a lot of energy and determination. She is a four-year starter who has progressed every year and is a leader. She has a nose for rebounds.”
She had 45 rebounds in three EM tournament wins to go with 63 points en route to MVP honors.
“I play center field in softball and I have a good idea where the ball is going to land and where I need to be. That also helps me in rebounding in basketball,” explained the 5-foot-10 Shaw. “I’m more confident than I used to be. I’ve learned how to use my height.”
She said she knows if she can make a big play, “it motivates my teammates and better things follow.”
Shaw is excited to be going to a final with younger sister Kelsey, a sophomore who was an all-tournament choice as well after averaging 10 points per game. Kelsey Shaw also had nine rebounds in the final against Presque Isle. Another key contributor in the final was guard Sarah Phelps with 12 points and seven rebounds.
Lake Region features All-WM tournament MVP Tiana-Jo Carter, a 6-2 forward who had 24 points and 15 rebounds in the 59-51 championship game win over Wells. Guard Sarah Hancock had 13 points and eight assists.
McVicar has been Calais coach Dana Redding’s go-to player. She had 45 points in three wins en route to a second straight tourney MVP selection.
“She’s very smart. She knows the game,” said Redding. “She’s the full package. She’s our floor general and she is also a very good defender who disrupts the other team’s offense.”
McVicar said she plays better in big games “because I have to be involved and make things happen.
“I’ve tried to worked on my jump shot, dribbling and passing. I try to make sure I make smart decisions with the ball,” she said. “It’s kind of fun feeling the pressure and knowing it’s up to you to decide where to put the ball.”
Paige Gillespie, a 5-11 center who had 35 rebounds and 22 points en route to all-tourney honors, is another Calais standout.
Carrabec is led by guard and West tourney MVP Hannah Atwood, who had 33 points in the last two wins and Mercedes Welch (41 points in three tourney wins).
Worcester is an all-tourney pick who scored 65 points and averaged five assists in Washburn’s tourney run.
“She can do it all. She plays with such poise. She’s very focused. She makes good decisions with the ball and she is a student of the game. She has great insight,” said Washburn coach Diana Trams. “She is also a phenomenal defender who can also rebound.”
Worcester guarded tourney MVP Parise Rossignol of Van Buren in the final and held her to 21 points with help from her teammates.
Worcester said she is just as happy making a steal or grabbing a rebound and passing to set up a fast-break opportunity for a teammate as she is scoring.
“That’s a very important part of the game. Our in-your-face style of defense, intensity and running game is what wins us games,” said Worcester, who benefited from tagging along with older brother Mitch and doing drills at his AAU boys basketball practices.
“Mitch has taught me so much. It was great fun,” she said.
Fellow all-tourney team choices Carsyn Koch (43 points) and Carmen Bragg (38 points) have also been vital to Washburn’s success.
Forest Hills features guard Kori Coro, who had 16 points and the 3-pointer at the buzzer to beat Rangeley in the final. Keely Taylor also had 16.
Forest Hills set the WM Class D record with 22 3-pointers in the tourney.
Morin was the East Class A MVP thanks to her 44 points in three games. She also had five steals in the championship game win over Edward Little of Auburn. Anna Winslow had 22 points vs. EL and had 43 in the tourney.
Two-time West MVP Allie Clement, a 5-8 senior guard, who had 53 points in the tournament, and fellow 6-3 center-forward Olivia Smith have been McAuley’s catalysts.