It’s still early in the high school hoops campaign, but the holiday break offers the chance to sense some trends, so here are 10 from the North regional boys basketball ranks.
Primo player: Bryce Lausier, Hampden Academy. From a 5-foot-10 freshman to a 6-4 senior, the Bangor Daily News All-Maine guard has taken the skills of his youth and added the size and strength to become one of the state’s most complete players for the undefeated Broncos. That’s evidenced by his five-game start this winter when he’s averaged 28.4 points, 8.4 rebounds and 4.5 assists per game while shooting 62 percent from the field and 54 percent from beyond the 3-point arc.
Bingo bonanza: Deer Isle-Stonington junior guard Myles Brown would keep University of Maine women’s basketball broadcaster Don Shields busy with his propensity for 3-point shooting. Brown made all nine of his field goals from beyond the arc while scoring 27 points in the Mariners’ Dec. 21 victory over Islesboro and has 17 3-pointers in his team’s last three games while averaging nearly 24 points per contest during that span. Brown has helped the Mariners move into the top four in Class D North with four straight victories since a 70-61 season-opening loss to unbeaten Class C contender George Stevens Academy of Blue Hill.
The Rim Protector: T.J. Henaghen, Hampden Academy. The 6-foot-7 sophomore known to his teammates as “Birch” has been as tall as a redwood in setting a defensive tone near the basket for the Broncos. The rangy Henaghen has stepped into the starting lineup this season and made an immediate impact, averaging 5.8 blocked shots per game to top the next-leading rejector in the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class A North ranks by nearly four blocks per contest.
Freshman to watch: Adam Savage, Skowhegan. Savage entered Skowhegan’s season opener with his team trailing 10-0 and the tenor of the game changed almost immediately. The rugged first-year forward provided the additional size his team needed and also offensive versatility ranging from the low post to the 3-point arc. Savage has gone on to lead coach Tom Nadeau’s club, now 3-3, in both points (13.8) and rebounds (7.0) per game so far this winter.
In defense of a title: It took Caribou 50 years to capture a second state championship in boys basketball last March, and a veteran squad of returning players led by BDN All-Maine forward Parker Deprey is striving to repeat that championship run this season. After a sluggish opener at Orono, the Vikings have defeated their last five foes by an average of 30.5 points per game with an offense that is scoring at a 77.0 ppg clip.
In defense of a title II: Another reigning state champion from the North seeking to build on its legacy is Bangor, which won its first four games before falling at Edward Little of Auburn last Monday. Coach Brad Libby’s club, which was remade with the transfer additions of 6-foot-8 senior Sam Martin and 6-5 junior Andrew Szwez to join returning starter Henry Westrich in the frontcourt, has allowed just 45.8 points per outing and looks to be part of what should be at least a three-team battle for Class AA North supremacy with EL and Deering of Portland. Bangor plays at Deering on Monday.
Defense wins championships?: It certainly helps a team get its season off to a good start, if the Dexter boys basketball team is any indication. Coach Peter Murray’s unbeaten Tigers (5-0) enter Saturday’s 11.a.m. Class C clash against fellow unbeaten Stearns of Millinocket at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor allowing a mere 33.2 points per contest thanks to its man-to-man system that features a rangy lineup able to reach into passing lanes and alter shots.
Quick turnaround: The Stearns Minutemen finished 3-15 a year ago but already have nearly doubled that win total before the New Year with their 5-0 start. Coach Brandon McLaughlin’s club has been clutch enough in close games, winning twice by five points or less. The Millinocket club features a blend of youth and experience led by sophomore Elliot Shearer, juniors Cole Kenyon and Mike Clark and a group of seniors that includes Jake Kowalski, Bennett Dunstan and Hayden Friel.
Consistent contenders: One of the area’s steadiest programs is Medomak Valley of Waldoboro, which has amassed 14 consecutive winning regular seasons. Coach Nick DePatsy’s club is off to another fast start this winter, with its 6-0 record in Class A North buoyed by a defense that has yielded only 41.7 points per game. Frontcourt veteran Gabe Allaire is one of just three seniors on a roster that also is getting major contributions from junior Parker Morrison and sophomores Trevor Brown and Patrick McKenney.
Team to beat: The Hampden Academy Broncos look to have a blend of everything needed to compete for the Class A North championship. There’s a leader in Lausier, plenty of experience with Lausier and brothers Mikey and Andy Raye, and considerable size with Lausier, Henaghen, Brayden Cole and Mikey Raye all 6-foot-3 or taller The Broncos are another defense-first team, having outscored its first five opponents by 20.7 points per game. Hampden also has benefitted from good ball movement — averaging 21.8 assists on its 27.6 made field goals per game.