Editor’s note: The second of two stories previewing Eastern Maine Class B boys basketball teams.
ROCKLAND, Maine — More than two decades have elapsed since Rockland District High School won its last state championship in boys basketball.
The Tigers’ 63-48 victory over York in the 1992 Class B final was the high point during a run that lasted the better part of a decade, including a memorable five-overtime loss to Dexter in the 1986 Eastern Maine championship game.
More than two decades later, Rockland High doesn’t even exist anymore, replaced last year by Oceanside High School — the combination of Rockland and Georges Valley of Thomaston.
But there’s reason to believe the consolidated Mariners are poised to make their own mark in the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class B world this winter, with four returning starters and a blend of experienced size and guard play.
“The big thing is trying to keep a level head about everything because we haven’t even played a game yet,” said Oceanside coach Matt Breen, whose team finished 12-8 last season and reached the Eastern Maine quarterfinals before being ousted by midcoast rival Medomak Valley of Waldoboro.
“But if the kids work hard, hopefully they’ll get their rewards.”
Quarterbacking the Mariners is 5-foot-8-inch junior Isaiah Stone-Patterson, a third-year presence at point guard.
“It’s about like having another coach on the floor,” said Breen. “With this being his third year as a starter he’s started to see things like we see them on the bench.”
Also back is last year’s leading scorer in Shea Davenport, a senior forward who averaged 11 points per game in the Mariners’ balanced attack, while 6-6 senior Tyler Gilson and 6-5 classmate Sam Meklin give Oceanside a sizeable frontcourt tandem.
“They’ve been working pretty well together,” said Breen. “We’ve made some changes with what they’re doing and they’ve adjusted well.”
Senior Matt Zable and juniors Nick Judge, Hunter Grindle and David Gould also will see considerable playing time, as will freshmen Nick Mazurek and Keenan Hendricks.
“We’ve got to be able to capitalize on our size,” said Breen. “Against most teams we should have a height advantage.”
One KVAC rival that should be able to match Oceanside near the basket is Medomak Valley, a regional semifinalist a year ago. Coach Nick DePatsy’s Panthers feature one of the state’s top centers in 6-7 senior John Murray, who is back in good health after missing much of last season due to injury. He will team up front with another veteran in 6-4 classmate Ryan Ripley.
Camden Hills of Rockport, the state’s dominant Class B team for more than a decade with six state titles and eight Eastern Maine crowns since the start of the 1998 season, also will be a factor as the KVAC seeks to extend its current run of 12 consecutive Eastern B crowns.
Coach Jeff Hart’s Windjammers, which suffered a one-point loss to top-ranked Mount Desert Island of Bar Harbor in last winter’s quarterfinals, will count on an experienced nucleus that includes senior guard Connor Hart, junior forward Colin Morse and junior guards Chandler Crans and Jason Kuhn.
Nokomis of Newport has experienced a basketball rebirth in recent years under veteran coach Carl Parker, and the Warriors should contend for a third straight trip to the Bangor Auditorium after suffering back-to-back overtime losses in the quarterfinals each of the last two years — including a 56-47 decision to eventual Eastern Maine champion Gardiner last February.
Andrew Cartwright, a 6-6 junior forward, should be among the team leaders, but classmate Devin Chambers and seniors John Adams, Will Cartwright, Chandler Foss, Spencer Hartsgrove and Drew Wing all provide experience.
Waterville and Winslow also are poised to represent the KVAC well this winter. Waterville is led by 6-foot-3 junior guard Chris Hale, while Winslow’s roster includes promising 6-4
sophomore forward Justin Martin.
“There are no nights off,” said Breen. “If you don’t gear up and play hard every night, you’re not going to win.
“It’s a grind.”