If you’re one of the people who are “shocked” that the “clear-cut favorite” in Class B isn’t in this game then, well, you need better sources. Caribou ended Hermon’s 42-game win streak, much to the amazement of people who only pay attention to W-L records and easy narratives, but anyone who’d been watching B North knew this was a definite possibility. Hermon was the favorite in this field, sure, but only a slight one, and that was only because they had an easier side of the bracket by virtue of getting the 1 seed.
Seeded: 2nd in B North, 2nd Overall
Should be Seeded: 1st in B North, 1st Overall
Caribou peaked at #2 in the Power Rankings at the end of January before Hermon’s win over Presque Isle moved them ahead. Then they more or less traded places as the top 10 shuffled around below the solid #1 of Bangor (every game theoretically impacts the Power Ranking of every team in a sort of ripple effect and that doesn’t always show itself past the 10th decimal point, but teams can easily move around the rankings without playing.) So the model had Caribou and Hermon as the 2 best teams in Class B by a decent margin, think of them as 1 and 1a. So the B North Regional Final should have been a close, hard-fought game. That’s exactly what you should have expected. Saturday, Caribou won. It could have easily been Hermon. Neither would have been unexpected.
Caribou is led by Parker Deprey, who posted a Efficiency Rating of 23.7 and a True Shooting % of 73.6% (per stats collected by the amazing folks at WHOU) in 3 games in Bangor. Deprey averaged over 21 points a game, but was one of 3 players who averaged double figures (Alex Bouchard: 14.3; Austin Findlen: 10.0). They do only go 6 deep and they don’t appear to be a great rebounding team, as they were out-rebounded for the tournament.
But their season is a profile of a Team That Figured It Out.
There’s that opening night loss to Hermon, then a surprising road loss to MCI and and understandable loss on the island and then they just took off. Fort Kent gave them a scare and that was really the last time they were tested until Ellsworth’s strong 1st half in the semifinals (they led by 6 until Caribou dropped a 22-7 3rd quarter). They played one of the hardest schedules in Class B and they out-scored it by 267 points (a %Perfect of 74% is very good for that schedule).
Seeded: 3rd in B South, 6th Overall
Should be Seeded: 1st in B South, 4th Overall
When Finn Bowe graduated, it would have been easy to assume Cape Elizabeth was due for a regression. The Portland Press Herald’s preview said they were “looking for consistency”, which is hardly a glowing endorsement, but consistency was kind of their issue early on.
They started out 2-5 with a perplexing loss to Fryeburg and a blowout loss to Falmouth, before getting hot and finishing 9-2, including 6 wins against teams in the top 40. They were 35th in the first half of the season and 14th in the second half, more evidence that they turned things around after a slow start. They were mis-seeded as the 3 seed, which meant they had a harder path to the Gold Ball game, having to play Maranacook in the semifinals. They did get the 8 seeded Wells in the Regional Final, but Wells has made it a habit lately of flipping the switch on the bigger floor and they pushed Cape to the absolute limit and might have pulled off the upset, but Ball Don’t Lie.
These are two really good teams, but the difference between 3rd and 15th in the Power Rankings is not small. If you’re Cape, you know that you played the tougher schedule (by a bit) and have the not-insignificant home court advantage after 2 games on the Cross Insurance Area floor in Portland (plus not having to drive 301 miles to get there). You also have 6’9″ Andrew Hartel, scorer of the winning basket in the Regional Final and the 16th ranked Mainer in his recruiting class. If you’re Caribou, you’ve been the better team throughout the year. You just ended Hermon’s reign.
The model is pretty confident on this one, but if Cape Elizabeth can get Caribou in foul trouble or dictate the pace and keep the score in the 40’s, they’ve got a chance. If Caribou can get out and run, this could be over fast.