Start Your Engines

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Start Your Engines

It's been a long, dark summer, but basketball is finally, officially, back.

Last night, the St. Dom's girls outlasted Pine Tree 51-43 at home to kick off the season and move into sole possession of first place in the state.

We have 81 games on the schedule for Opening Night. The scoreboard is up and running, so you can see what happened at a glance. You can also input the score from the game you were at and the Heal Points page will be updated every 5-10 minutes as the scores roll in.

In addition to the Ashland girls opting out this year, the Penquis girls were unable to field a team and had to drop out last week. I always feel terrible for the kids in these situations, because you know there's at least 2-3 really talented, dedicated players who are just dying to play. Eastern Maine Sports has the story of one of those players, Penquis' Addison Conklin.

Addison Conklin joining Foxcroft Academy girls basketball team one week after Penquis cancels season
The Last week has been full of emotions for Addison Conklin. The senior found out last Thursday night (November 30th) that the Penquis Patriots were canceling varsity girls basketball season…

Remember, there's new free throw rules this year.

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As basketball junkies, you already know this, but in case the guy sitting near you in the stands doesn't, it's a nice reminder. Maybe ADs can add this to the program?

There's a TON of changes this year. A bunch of top players transferred to prep schools for this season in hopes of improving their college prospects, and good for them. You've only got one shot at this.

There's also more coaching turnover than I can ever remember. There's your usual situations of the parents forcing a coach out because he made their kids run laps or whatever, but a bunch of successful coaches stepped away on their own, for various reasons. Hopefully they come back in a couple of years. If not, I'm sure they have some fantastic stories.

If you remember last year, the Sumner gym was unusable, which led them on a season-long road trip. But the gym is fixed! Ryan McLaughlin has the story.

And with Opening Day comes previews.

The Bangor Daily News has a new reporter on the boys basketball beat (the legendary Larry Mahoney, as always, covers the girls). Here's Sam Canfield's boys preview:

Boys basketball preview: Orono and Ellsworth poised to be the season’s biggest rivalry
In addition to Orono and Ellsworth, Old Town and Caribou are also returning key players and could definitely make some noise in the tournament.

There's a bunch of other stuff on there for you to check out.

Down south, Varsity Maine has their usual collection of previews. They published the girls previews yesterday.

Girls’ basketball: 10 teams to watch in southern Maine
Thornton Academy, Brunswick and Gorham are among the teams that enter the winter as title contenders.

In the last couple of years, there's been more independent coverage (like this website!) as the barriers to publication fall by the wayside. Some of the really cool stuff comes from students like Gorham's Thomas Curtis.

Class AA Preseason Power Rankings
A preview and ranking of Maine Class AA teams for 2023–24.

Love to see this sort of stuff.

On the Cooper watch, the NBA is changing their rules. Are we calling it the Cooper Flagg rule? No. But we're not not calling it that.

NBA to allow scouting of top prospects in Vegas
The NBA will allow scouts to watch Cooper Flagg and other elite high school prospects during the In-Season Tournament in Las Vegas.

If you're wondering, there's only 12 boys games scheduled for January 5th, the day Montverde plays at the hockey rink in Portland and none of them are anywhere near Portland. So if you're looking for a coach or AD that night, they're probably going to all be in one place.

In other news, Brewer has a 6'6" 8th grader.

The talent pool in Maine has probably never been deeper. It's an exciting time.

We start with the defending champs.

When last we saw SoPo, Ben Smith was 8-9 from the floor en route to 19 points and the Red Riots were your back-to-back AA State Champs. Of course, Smith is gone now, one of 8 seniors Coach Millington has to replace, along with Jayden Kim, who transferred to a private school. The Model knows none of this. So it might be a bit high on SoPo. The question here is, can the next wave step in?

As for Gorham, they've got Ryan Deschenes (via GNG) on the sidelines now and with a new coach will naturally be looking to make a splash in AA. Beating the defending champs would do the trick.

The Model's picks for this and the other 80 games tonight are after the jump.