BANGOR, Maine — It was a unique year in Maine’s high school basketball ranks with stars from smaller schools dominating the battle for the state’s top individual awards.
But no matter their schools’ classification, there was little doubting the impact Garet Beal of Class D Jonesport-Beals and Martha Veroneau of the Class C Waynflete School of Portland had not only within their teams but throughout the state’s basketball world at large.
That status was confirmed Friday night when Beal and Veroneau were named the state’s Mr. and Miss Basketball during the Maine Association of Basketball Coaches awards banquet at Husson University.
“I’ve just worked so hard over the last four years and I’ve always wanted to get to this point,” said Beal, a 6-foot-5-inch guard bound for the University of Maine on a basketball scholarship this fall. “Just to be a finalist is great, and to be able to accept this award is amazing.”
Beal was selected for the Mr. Basketball from a trio of finalists that also included John Murray of Medomak Valley of Waldoboro and Mitchell Worcester of Washburn.
Joining Veroneau as finalists for the Miss Basketball Award were Chandler Guerrette of Presque Isle and Kristen Anderson of Leavitt of Turner Center.
“So many great players who have come through Maine high school basketball have received this award, and there’s a great group of girls among the finalists this year with Kristen Anderson and Chandler Guerrette,” said Veroneau, a 5-7 guard. “To be recognized for all my hard work and the time I put in to be the best player I could be is special, and it’s such an honor to be able to say I’m Miss Maine Basketball.”
None of this year’s boys or girls finalists were from Class A schools, with Beal becoming the first Mr. Basketball from a Class D school since Raymond Alley of Vinalhaven in 1989 and Veroneau the first Miss Basketball from a Class C school since Lanna Martin of Calais in 2002.
“There was a lot of players who were as deserving as I was but I was fortunate to win,” said Beal. “There were a lot of good Class D kids, one of them being Mitch, and there are just a lot of us who go out there and work hard.”
Beal, the state’s Maine Gatorade Player of the Year as a junior, averaged 34.0 points, 10.7 rebounds and 5.5 assists per game while playing an average of just 24 minutes per game as a senior in leading Jonesport-Beals to an undefeated regular season and a berth in the Eastern Maine Class D quarterfinals.
He set school records this winter with 55 points in a single game and a career total of 1,686 points — in both cases surpassing marks set by his father Lindell, who died last summer.
“I’m proud of him,” said Jonesport-Beals coach Gordon Faulkingham. “Garet’s accomplished a lot for what he’s been through, and to do what he’s done is pretty amazing, I think.”
As a junior, the four-year starter led the Royals to their first state title since 1993, averaging 22.3 points, 8.7 rebounds, 3.8 steals, 3.6 assists and 1.6 blocks per game while shooting 61.5 percent from the field, 46.7 percent from 3-point range and 81.2 percent from free-throw line.
Beal was a first-team Bangor Daily News All-Maine choice last year and a third-team honoree as a sophomore in 2011.
Jonesport-Beals was 71-9 during Beal’s four varsity seasons at Jonesport-Beals, 18-1 this winter.
Veroneau led Waynflete to a 20-3 record and its first Class C state championship this winter.
She scored 34 points in the state final — including her team’s last 16 points of the game — as the Flyers rallied past Calais 59-55.
Veroneau averaged 19.8 points, 5.2 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game during her senior season and surpassed older sister Margaret Veroneau this winter to become Waynflete’s all-time scoring leader with 1,465 career points.
“I’ve learned that if you put your mind on something and you put in the time in and have fun, it’s going to be worth it no matter what,” said Veroneau, who also set Western C tournament records for points (47) and 3-point goals (nine) in a game during a semifinal victory over Boothbay in 2012.
Also one of the state’s top schoolgirl lacrosse players, Veroneau will attend Boston College in the fall to study nursing.
Among other honors presented during the banquet, Kyle Merchant of Dexter and Jenn Smith of Dirigo of Dixfield were presented the Maine McDonald’s Spirit of the Game award, which annually honors two high school seniors who embody the spirit of basketball, exemplify sportsmanship and support and inspire their teammates and coaching staff.
Josie Lee of Cony of Augusta and Tom Wilberg were recipients of the Maine All-State Academic Scholarships.
Maine McDonald’s Senior All-Star Basketball Weekend activities continue at Husson on Saturday beginning with the state free-throw shooting contest at 8:30 a.m. The boys C-D all-star game follows at 9:15 a.m., followed by the slam dunk competition at 10:30 and the boys A-B game at 11 a.m.
The afternoon session begins with the girls A-B game at 12:45 p.m., followed by a 3-point shooting competition at 2 p.m. and the girls C-D game at 2:30 p.m.