The Class A Boys tournaments couldn’t have been more different.
In the South, the higher seeds generally prevailed, with a few small upsets, depending on who you listen to. In the North, things got a little messy and had the refs not been stricken with temporary blindness, all hell might have broken loose, which is kind of what we’ve come to expect from the most competitive top-to-bottom region in the state. In the end, we’re presented with a matchup few expected in the Gold Ball game. Let’s take a look.
Seeded: 1st in A South; 1st Overall
Should be seeded: 1st in A South; 1st Overall
The Greely Boys aren’t the overwhelming favorite the Greely Girls are (who is?), but they still managed to work their way into the top spot of the Power Rankings, despite losing 3 games in the regular season. Greely is led by Andrew Storey, Logan Bagshaw, and Zach Brown, all of whom were named to the Hoops 8 All-Tournament Team. Storey, the 6’6″ center who can stretch the floor, was the A South Tournament MVP and could give Lawrence their biggest matchup problem. Bagshaw is Greely’s primary threat from deep and averaged 19 PPG in the tournament.
Greely posted 10 blow outs in 21 games. None of their 3 losses are bad losses. They got more value in the Power Rankings from their 2-point loss to #13 Oxford Hills than they did their lackluster win over #37 Yarmouth. This is one of the important features of the Model: understanding that a close loss to a good team is a better litmus test than merely squeaking by a lesser team (and both are worth more than destroying a mediocre team). They played the 2nd hardest schedule in Class A and they had the highest %Perfect in A by a wide margin (Kennebunk was next at 65%). They hardly struggled against the tougher part of their schedule. Only Bangor was better against the Top 25.
Seeded: 4th in A North; 9th Overall
Should be seeded: 3rd in A North; 8th Overall
Lawrence did exactly what you need to do to win A North these days: play your best basketball in Augusta and avoid an upset. We have full, sortable stats from the A North tournament. The common narrative is that Lawrence is a led by guards Kobe Nadeau (14.0 PPG; 4.0 RPG; 4.7 APG in the tourney) and Nick Robertson (14.0 PPG; 1.3 SPG), but their best player in Augusta was actually forward Gavin Herrin, who led them in FG% (63%), True Shooting % (73.1%), RPG (7.3), and Efficiency Rating (16.0). He was +23. Herrin was crucial in the 4th quarter against Cony, securing 5 defensive rebounds and Lawrence was able to hold off a comeback attempt.
You would normally expect this to be a tougher schedule, but Gardiner and Nokomis had awful years. This is a very middle-of-the-pack Class A schedule. The win over Hampden vaulted them into the top 4 for seeding, something that came in very handy. They started 0-4 before rallying, but that 5-game winning streak was largely against the weakest part of their schedule. They were under-seeded, slightly, but there’s not a lot in that profile that screams Regional Champions. Sometimes, a team just kicks it into a higher gear. Sometimes, you have guards who excel on the bigger floor.
In the semifinal win over Cony, Lawrence overcame 25 turnovers by shooting 53% from the floor. Against Skowhegan, they held on to the ball better (11 turnovers), but only shot 42%. They’ll need the better half of both of those games to take down the Rangers. Greely’s triple threat stands 6’3″, 6’3″, and 6’6″. No one on Lawrence’s roster stands taller than 6’2″. They were able to hold their own rebounding in the A North tourney (69% DREB%; 35% OREB%), but they didn’t face a team with Greely’s size. They’ll need better shooting from Nadeau (45.4% TS%) and Robertson (52.3% TS%) to get it done.