Less than a week into the regular season, there’s just one undefeated boys basketball team left in Class AA North.
And while the look may be different, it’s the same program that won last year’s state championship — the Bangor Rams.
Coach Brad Libby’s club posted early road victories at Portland and Lewiston. And with losses Tuesday night by preseason divisional favorites Deering of Portland and Edward Little of Auburn, Bangor sits alone atop the division with two of its seven long road trips already out of the way.
Defense has been at the heart of the early success for the Rams, which plays its home opener at 6:30 p.m. Friday against 0-2 Windham as the back half of a doubleheader that begins with a 5 p.m. battle of the schools’ girls teams.
“We’ve still got a ways to go, but we’re starting to play defense with good help side on the rotations and then closing hard to shooters,” Libby said. “Teamwise, they’re starting to communicate with each other. All the rotations are going pretty well, but we’ve still got work on those second and third rotations.”
Bangor allowed only 42 points per game in its two victories and scored those wins by an average margin of 17.5 points, with a 58-41 win at Portland last Friday followed by a 62-43 win at Lewiston on Tuesday night.
“We beat Lewiston by 19, but it felt like it was a one possession game the whole way,” Libby said. “With their energy and how they played, it never felt like we were necessarily in control. Every possession mattered, so both of those games were really good tests for us on the road.”
Bangor also had offensive consistency in those two victories, with the frontcourt trio of seniors Henry Westrich and Sam Martin, and junior Andrew Szwez accounting for 50 points in each game.
Westrich, a 6-foot-4 forward who is the lone returning starter from last year’s team, is averaging a team-leading 21.0 points per game.
Martin, a 6-8 transfer from Orono, is at 19.5 points per game through two outings, while Szwez, a 6-5 transfer from George Stevens Academy in Blue Hill, has chipped in 9.5 points per game.
“These wins help the chemistry and the confidence,” Libby said. “Every team we play is coming after us, but if we do our job on the defensive end of the floor where it starts and then be patient offensively and run our system, I think we’re going to continue to get better as the year goes on.”
Windham was picked one spot ahead of Bangor in third place in the Class AA North preseason coaches poll. The Eagles opened their schedule with a 58-44 loss at Edward Little, then fell to Portland 55-54 Tuesday night on a last-second 3-pointer by Kevin Smart.
“It should be a great game, and it should be a great atmosphere with the boys and girls doubleheader, for sure,” Libby said.
Bangor has a week off after playing Windham before hosting Brewer on Dec. 20.