Parker Deprey and Sawyer Deprey are all smiles when the topic turns to the lingering celebration they helped create after Caribou High School ended its five-decade state championship drought in boys basketball two months ago.
The brothers were instrumental figures for the Vikings throughout the winter, helping to spark a 19-game winning streak that was capped off by a 49-47 double-overtime victory over Cape Elizabeth in the Class B title game at the Cross Insurance Arena in Portland.
Even today, the celebration continues in subtle ways: The gold ball making its rounds throughout the community and the increase in younger kids working on their games at the local rec center.
“There’s been a lot of congratulations, a lot of people coming in where I work and giving me big tips because they know me,” said Sawyer “Bear” Deprey, the 6-foot sophomore who stood his ground defensively in the state final against towering 6-9 Cape Elizabeth center Andrew Hartel.
Such good vibes shouldn’t come as a surprise given how the arena morphed into Caribou South on that magical Saturday afternoon. The Vikings claimed the ultimate prize for the first time since Mike Thurston created magic with his last-second shot from beyond halfcourt to beat Westbrook in the 1969 Class LL state final.
“I don’t think we knew what to expect to be honest, but I think it all hit us when coach (Kyle Corrigan) walked in the locker room and was in tears. That got all of us super happy,” said Parker Deprey, a junior forward who last month was named to the Bangor Daily News All-Maine second team. “We’re all still riding the high.”
Both Deprey brothers are three-sport athletes, so as one celebration lingers, the pursuit of a new challenge has begun amid similarly lofty aspirations: The chance to win a third state championship in their last four sports seasons.
The Deprey brothers, along with senior Gabe Rand, are the lone returning starters from the Caribou boys tennis team that struck gold last spring; they defeated Freeport 3-2 in the Class B championship match for the program’s first state title in a decade.
Parker Deprey played first singles, reaching the quarterfinals of the state singles tournament along the way, while Sawyer played first doubles as a freshman for coach John Habeeb’s club.
“It’s pretty different,” said Parker of the two state championships already achieved. “In The County, basketball has always been the main focus for my family anyways and I feel like it has been the focus for a lot of people. The community really surrounds a good basketball team and will always support them.
“Tennis gets support, too. We have fans that come to our matches, and we had a parade with a few people after we won the championship. But it’s not like basketball.”
The two Depreys and Rand — who also qualified for state singles play last spring and won at third singles against Freeport to clinch the team championship — give Caribou a formidable singles tandem as the Vikings seek to extend their 19-match winning streak on Saturday when they visit Mount Desert Island of Bar Harbor.
“I’m not sure how much people are going to be shooting for us because they know how much we’ve lost,” Parker said. “But I think we’re going to surprise a lot of people and come out and have another really good season.”
Fresh from a grueling winter when Caribou was blanketed in 164.7 inches of snow that covered the ground for a record 163 days, according to the National Weather Service, the Vikings are 3-0 this season.
“It takes us a while to work out the kinks every year because we only get to play a month and a half or two months out of the year for the regular season,” Parker said.
The Vikings also have survived what may be the toughest test of their regular season, edging John Bapst of Bangor 3-2 indoors last Friday at the Armstrong Tennis Center in Hampden.
Caribou dropped both doubles matches before sweeping three must-win singles matches, with Rand capturing the decisive point in a tiebreaker.
“We’re not sure how far we can get this year,” Parker said. “We know the team we faced at the state match last year, Freeport, didn’t lose anybody except for their second doubles so we’re thinking they’ll be tough competition and, of course, John Bapst is supposed to be really good, too.
“We’re hoping for another deep playoff run.”