The Caribou Vikings ended a 50-year state championship drought in boys basketball last winter, but now they’re just one victory away from a chance to make it two in a row.
Coach Kyle Corrigan’s club has been the dominant team in Class B North. The lone blemish on its 19-1 record — a 46-42 loss at Hermon on Jan. 18 — seemingly reminded the veteran Vikings that nothing can be taken for granted.
Top-ranked Caribou has won eight straight since then, including a 61-48 quarterfinal victory over No. 8 Mount Desert Island and a 73-32 semifinal decision over No. 12 Old Town to advance to Saturday’s 3:45 p.m. regional final against No. 2 Ellsworth.
Ellsworth, a popular preseason pick to face Caribou in this matchup, is 17-3 with seven straight victories since its second regular-season loss of the winter to the Vikings, 65-49 at Ellsworth on Jan. 24.
Both teams feature a Mr. Basketball semifinalist in Caribou forward Parker Deprey (22.2 points, 10.3 rebounds per game during the regular season) and Ellsworth center Jackson Curtis (19.6 ppg, 9.0 rpg).
Caribou’s collective speed and overall athleticism — the team includes members of a state championship tennis team and a regional champion soccer team — has propelled the Vikings to 35 victories in their last 36 games while averaging 72.0 points per contest this winter.
Ellsworth has averaged just 45.5 points in its two losses to Caribou this season, so unless the Eagles rise up defensively in the third meeting the Vikings appear poised for a return to the state championship game.
Machias, Easton seek D boys crown
Class D North has been the land of the upsets in the North boys ranks with No. 4 Machias and No. 6 Easton set to meet in Saturday’s 10:45 a.m. title game at the Cross Insurance Center.
Machias (11-8) pulled off the tournament’s shocker to date, blitzing previously undefeated and top-ranked Jonesport-Beals 79-60 in Thursday night’s semifinals after a 57-46 quarterfinal victory over No. 5 Southern Aroostook of Dyer Brook.
Easton (14-6) has been more methodical in its first two tourney wins, a 56-48 quarterfinal verdict over No. 3 Van Buren and a 50-48 semifinal survival of No. 7 Deer Isle-Stonington.
A big challenge for a Machias team that starts five underclassmen will be to avoid a letdown after stunning a neighboring Jonesport-Beals team that defeated the Bulldogs by 31 and 36 points during the regular season.
But coach Jim Getchell’s club, which shot 64 percent from the field and 74 percent on 46 free-throw attempts against the Royals, also is at home in the halfcourt as evidenced by its 47.7 points per game average during the regular season.
Easton is able to pace the game to its liking behind senior guards Matt Pangburn and Kooper Kinney, as first-year coach Brad Trask’s Bears successfully subdued the fast-break tendencies of its first two tourney foes.
The Bears are unlikely to press Machias and leave themselves vulnerable to the transition opportunities that fueled Machias’ win over Jonesport-Beals, meaning this game will not be a track meet and is likely to be decided late — with Machias the narrow choice.