March 22, 2019
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Lee, Central Aroostook boys seek gold

BANGOR — For the Lee Academy boys basketball team, it’s the chance to achieve a first.

For Central Aroostook of Mars Hill, it’s the opportunity to build on a championship legacy.

Lee and Central Aroostook both will compete for state titles at the Bangor Auditorium on Saturday, with Central Aroostook facing Richmond for the Class D crown at 2:45 p.m. while Lee will square off against Dirigo of Dixfield for the Class C championship at 8:45 p.m.

In the Class D game, Central Aroostook will seek to extend a perfect 5-0 record in state championship games, having won in 1994, 1996, 2005, 2006 and 2008.

The Panthers also are a perfect 21-0 record this winter, with perhaps their signature game coming in the Eastern Maine final when coach Tim Brewer’s club shut down a high-powered Jonesport-Beals offense during a stunning 49-26 victory.

“I think we’re playing pretty well right now,” said Brewer, who has a 205-28 coaching record in 11 years at his alma mater, including a 28-7 tournament mark.

Brewer has called this team the most talented he has coached, with 6-6 junior Mike McClung — the Eastern D tourney MVP — 6-2 senior Caleb Kelly and 6-0 junior Brendan York working up front while senior Logan McLaughlin and junior Dan Brewer handle the backcourt duties.

Richmond is a familiar opponent to the Panthers, having lost to Central Aroostook in both the 2006 and 2008 state finals. The latter came when guard Manny Martinez floated in the game-winning shot over 6-10 center Marc Zaharchuk with 0.8 seconds left in the game.

The Bobcats (16-3) will bring formidable height to the 2011 encounter led by 6-5 senior center Kyle O’Brien — the Western D tourney MVP — and 6-3 senior forward Tom Carter.

Senior forward Wade Tuttle, senior point guard Mike Christis and junior swingman Ben Carver are the other starters for coach Phil Houdlette’s club, which is in the state final for the fifth time in six years but is seeking its first gold ball since 1986.

“They’re a good team,” said Brewer. “They’re really pretty quick.”

In the Class C game, Lee (20-1) will attempt to win its first state championship in boys basketball, armed with a deep, talented club that has averaged more than 66 points per game this winter while also displaying a defense capable of stifling its opponents — yielding just 39.3 points per game during three Eastern Maine tournament victories.

Senior guard A.J. Harris, the son of veteran Lee coach Randy Harris and a four-year starter, led the Pandas during the regular season and was named MVP of the Eastern C tournament. Senior Bryan James and Arturas Makovskis also are capable of big games from the backcourt, while 6-7 sophomore Daniel He gives Lee a strong frontcourt presence.

Lee outclassed the rest of the Eastern C tournament field, winning its three regional tournament games by an average of 26.0 points while extending its overall winning streak to 13 games.

Dirigo (19-2) won its third straight Western C title despite graduating all five starters from last year’s team.

The Cougars are guided by first-year head coach Rebecca Fletcher, the first woman to coach a boys varsity basketball team to a regional title in Maine, and are led on the court by 6-4 junior center Cody St. Germain, named the MVP of the Western C tournament.

Dirigo has just two seniors on its roster, including guard Spencer Ross.

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