The MBR 17-and-under boys basketball team reached new heights for a Maine AAU program last summer, finishing 11th in a field of 153 teams at the junior boys AAU National Championships at Orlando, Fla.
That team, coached by Bangor’ s Carl Parker, is considerably different this year, but leaves for the Sunshine State on Wednesday in search of building on that 2007 performance.
“Any time you play well, you like to go out the next time and top that,” said Parker, “but that’ s a long-range goal. The goal in any game is to play the best you can and move on to the next game.”
In all, 148 teams from around the country are expected to compete in the 17-and-under junior nationals that run July 27-Aug. 1, and MBR is also one of 131 teams expected to participate in a Super Showcase tournament, featuring many of the same teams, that begins Thursday.
MBR went 4-1 in the Super Showcase last summer, then advanced to the Sweet 16 of the national championships before suffering its first loss. The team finished the junior nationals with a 7-2 record.
Just three players are back from last year’ s MBR team, a trio led by 6-foot-8 center Thomas Knight, who will be a senior at Dirigo of Dixfield this fall.
Knight, a second-team Bangor Daily News All-Maine choice last season, is the most heavily recruited of the state’ s Class of 2009 after a solid performance earlier this summer at the Reebok All-American Camp, one of the most prestigious summer basketball clinics of its kind in the nation.
He already has received a number of Division I scholarship offers, as well as additional interest from several high-major college programs, Parker said.
Other veterans on the MBR squads are a pair of recent high school graduates, Derek Libbey of Mattanawcook Academy of Lincoln and Lee Suvlu of Bangor. Libbey earned All-Maine honors last winter after leading the Lynx to the Eastern Maine Class B semifinals, while Suvlu played a key role in helping Bangor win back-to-back Eastern Maine Class A championships.
Libbey and Suvlu will be teammates on the postgraduate level next season at Maine Central Institute in Pittsfield.
Joining that group on this year’ s MBR roster are Jacob Moore of Hampden Academy, Ben Russell of Mt. Blue of Farmington, Keegan Hyland of South Portland, Stefano Mancini of Falmouth, Evan Kenney of Gray-New Gloucester and Doug Nash from Leavitt of Turner Center.
All will be showcasing their wares not only in search of team success, but with an eye toward their individual futures, as chief among the viewing audience at the nationals will be hundreds of coaches from all collegiate levels.
“You find typically that because of where we are and the lack of respect some people may have for kids from Maine that they’ re really recruited a notch below where their skill level is,” said Parker, who has been taking Maine teams to national-level AAU tournaments since 1991. “But maybe some of our kids have been in awe of that next level, too, so that has kind of evened it out.”
MBR will be one of three Maine teams competing in the 17-and-under nationals. MBNation 17U, a Saco-based team coached by Lenny Holmes, includes two players on its roster from three-time Eastern Maine Class C champion Calais, center Cal Shorey and guard Jordan Leeman.
The Maine Liberty, another southern Maine team coached by Mike Andreasen, includes on its squad talented forward Corey Therriault of Edward Little of Auburn.
Hunt resigns Cony hoop post
Longtime Cony of Augusta boys varsity basketball coach Bruce Hunt tendered his resignation from that post to school officials late last week.
The 51-year-old Hunt had coached the Rams for the last 15 years after a stint at Medomak Valley of Waldoboro.
“My son [Tyler] just became the boys coach at Winthrop and my daughter Natalie is a freshman at Maranacook [of Readfield] and is going to be playing there,” said Hunt. “They’ ve supported me full time over the years, and now it’ s time I support them full time.”
Cony finished with a 13-5 regular-season record last winter, good for fourth place in Eastern Maine Class A. The Rams then were defeated by Mt. Blue of Farmington in the regional quarterfinals.
Hunt did not rule out a return to the sidelines sometime in the future.
“I might want to do this again,” said Hunt, a physical education teacher at Farrington Elementary School in Augusta. “I’ m a really competitive person, and I still enjoy doing it.”