The final days of each regular season in high school basketball are full of drama with many teams posturing for better postseason position and others making one last attempt just to qualify for tournament time.
The girls and boys basketball teams at Bangor High School found themselves in those different spots as their schedules wound down.
Coach Joe Johnson’s Bangor girls squad rebounded from a 1-4 start that included scoring just 19 points in its first game of the season to win six of its next 10 contests and put itself in solid position to secure a tournament trip to the Augusta Civic Center for the Class AA North quarterfinals.
While the Rams, led by senior center Katie Butler, looked to be a solid fifth in the division thanks in great part to a victory over top-seeded Oxford Hills of South Paris, there still was the potential to inch up the rankings with a strong finish in their remaining three games against Messalonskee of Oakland, Lawrence of Fairfield and Lewiston.
The Bangor boys, meanwhile, battled down to the season’s final week in their effort to secure a return to postseason play. Coach Carl Parker’s club used victories over Hampden Academy and Oxford Hills as part of a three-game winning streak that enabled it to challenge Windham for the sixth and final postseason berth in AA North.
The perimeter tandem of senior George Payne, sophomore Damien Vance and freshman Henry Westrich has fueled the Rams’ late-season run, but they were still tasked with building on that winning streak after a 2-10 start in order to catch Windham, which knocked Edward Little of Auburn out of the unbeaten ranks one night after Bangor ended Hampden’s 62-game home winning streak.
But enough Heal points were there for both teams to make their postseason statements.
Meanwhile, defending state champion Portland and regular contender Edward Little look to be the top contenders for the AA North boys crown.
Coach Joe Russo’s Portland club, led by Bangor Daily News All-Maine junior guard Terion Moss, dominated the regional tournament last year, defeating Edward Little of Auburn in the semifinals and Deering of Portland in the championship game by a combined 68 points.
That gap may be narrower this winter, with a balanced EL club led by veterans Jarod Norcross-Plourde and Samatar Iman already owning a 76-70 regular-season victory over the Bulldogs back in December.
But Portland won its next 10 games after that loss while averaging nearly 70 points per outing.
Deering and intracity rival Cheverus — which lost to Portland by four points at home on Jan. 20 — also are in position to make noise in Augusta while Oxford Hills is seeking to regain its momentum after late back-to-back road losses at Class A Gardiner and Bangor.
On the girls side, defending regional champion Oxford Hills and Edward Little have been ranked as the top two teams in the division throughout the winter and may be poised for a rematch in the Class AA North title game.
The teams were due to meet for the second time this winter during the final week of the regular season. Oxford Hills defeated EL 44-31 at South Paris on Dec. 13.
Portland-based Deering and Cheverus as well as Bangor and Lewiston were poised to earn the other tourney bids.